Protecting the Gold Coast’s most treasured beaches

23 Jul 2021
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The value of the 53km of open beaches on the Gold Coast can be found in the 13 million visitors that the city welcomes each year.

While the Gold Coast’s famed sandy shores and surf breaks are enjoyed by tourists and locals alike, the work undertaken by the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management (GCCM) over the past two decades has proved invaluable in preserving this fragile environment from the impact of urban encroachment.

The GCCM, through a strategic research partnership with City of Gold Coast, has helped cement the city’s reputation as a world leader in coastal management practices.

The work, which incorporates urban catchment, floodplain and water resource management, has enhanced coastal engineering expertise and capacity in the region, contributing to a sustainable management plan for the city’s beaches over the next 50 years.

The Gold Coast Shoreline Management Plan, formally adopted by the city in 2010, was developed in collaboration with GCCM. The plan provides 77 management and enhancement strategies for the coastline, taking account of its vital position as an economic driver and lifestyle asset.

It covers key planning strategies and policies across the city, including major capital engineering works, natural disaster management, potential beach erosion, and the protection of marine life and seabird nesting areas.

Storm modelling has been an important leg of research amid the challenges that climate change and extreme weather conditions offer. These are balanced with managing the impact of man-made structures on the coastal environment.

GCCM research supported the development of a surf management plan for the city, leading to the southern Gold Coast beaches being classified as a World Surfing Reserve in 2016.

Research into tidal entrance dynamics also validated the entrance management strategy for the Gold Coast Seaway and Currumbin Creek. The Currumbin Entrance Dredging Steering Committee considered a GCCM study in its finding that dredging was the only viable solution to improve ocean access for the creek.

GCCM research has been critical for the City of Gold Coast to adopt strategies to minimise damage during the major storms of February 2013 and June 2016. Being able to demonstrate ongoing resilience of the Gold Coast beaches has an enormous impact on the city’s vital tourism market.