Young Geographers Look At Coastline Management

Young Geographers Look At Coastline Management

Year 10 Geography students have been learning about coastal processes and landforms, including projected impacts of climate change and associated rises in sea levels. 

To follow on from their studies, Year 10 geographers spent a day in the field examining current management strategies being employed along the Perth coastline recently. Students carried out studies at Hillary’s, Scarborough, Cottesloe, and Port Beach to become aware of issues being addressed by Local and State governments to ensure environmental, economic and social sustainability.

At Hillary’s students completed field sketches of the coastal zone and saw how this area has been modified to accommodate a range of recreational activities. At the same time manage the sand movement along this stretch of coastline. In contrast, the master plan for Scarborough has promoted multiple functions, with considerable development including medium and high-density housing and apartments, along with the increased economic activity. Students were able to identify the recent changes made here to ensure the growth of tourism and manage the increased pressures on the coast.

At Cottesloe, students saw how previous plantings on sand dunes have led to a more stabilised dune system. Then, as this coastal zone is the subject of a great deal of public debate between various groups of stakeholders wishing to have a say in its future, we examined some of the management plans and proposals currently being debated and came to understand the various viewpoints being considered. Case studies included the very recent decision of the WA Planning Commission to approve a seven-storey proposal at 120 Marine Parade, despite resistance from other stakeholders, including the Town of Cottesloe, and the planned redevelopment of the Indiana Teahouse.

At Port Beach, we could see both short-term and long-term strategies being put in place to limit the damage caused by rising sea levels and associated storm surges. Comparisons could be made of the various ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ engineering solutions that have been required for the short term, such as dune protection and rock walls respectively, and consider the costs involved. Given the port facilities and infrastructure nearby, students could also see how ‘managed retreat’ might look like as a longer-term strategy.

Throughout the day, students used geographical data and skills, including satellite imagery that showed projected changes in sea levels. Back in the classroom, students will now apply their learning to a choice of case studies of coastal management from elsewhere in the world. Hopefully, the experience will further encourage students to pursue this topic as a possible career opportunity or to study Geography into Years 11 and 12, where we examine climate change and the impacts of tropical storms on coastlines, especially in less developed countries.

Our hope is for students to become more informed stakeholders in the future management of our coastline.

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