Module 7


Who Cares for our Coast? Understanding how our
Coastal Zone is managed





Activity 1


Activity 2 What are the Goals of ESD Activity 3 Getting Past the Language
Activity 4 How Does Coastal Planning Work? Activity 5 How Can the Public be Involved? Activity 6 Summary


1. Introduction

A. Workshop Outline

Show OHT 1 to provide an overview of the workshop.

B. Mini-lecture 1

Use Reading 1 to explain:

  • why we need to communicate to participants an understanding of how coastal policy is made;

  • the structures and processes in place to implement agreed goals; and

  • why we need to know where and how the public can contribute to policies that affect the coastal zone.

2. What are the Goals of ESD

A. Mini-lecture 2

  • It is important to start this section 'where the participants are at'. The facilitator can begin by canvassing the feelings and understandings of the participants regarding the coastal environment. Display OHT 7 from Module 1 to prompt participants to reflect on local experiences. Slides or photographs could also be used, preferably from your local area.

  • What do we want from coastal habitats? Do we want them to stay exactly as they are now? Do we want them to be in better condition than they are now? Do participants want to show them to their children? Do they want to use them for recreation such as fishing?

  • To improve the quality of these habitats now, and to have them in the future requires that we set out some goals for them. That is, we must decide what we want to happen to these habitats, and how we are going to achieve these goals. After asking many people what they want from our coastal environment, the Commonwealth and State/Territory Governments have adopted a major goal and some core objectives and guiding principles for our coastal environment. These stem from the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development.

  • Display OHT 2, on the goal, core objectives and guiding principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD). These were incorporated within Living on the Coast: The Commonwealth Coastal policy which was published in 1995. Read out the goal. Explain that this is the first attempt to write out the long term goal for the coastal environment, and we need to understand what it says. Ask participants what they think phrases such as 'improves the quality of life' means and what 'maintains ecological processes' means.

  • Read out the core objectives and guiding principles, stopping to ask the participants to define terms as they appear. The facilitator needs to judge the comprehension levels of participants carefully here, using as much time as needed to communicate the goal, objectives and guiding principles. When finished, ask for feedback. If feedback is negative or cynical, reassure participants that they will be learning about processes that will help achieve this goal.

  • Explain that these are Australia's goals for all developments (and activities), not just those on the coast, and that some of the terms used here will be explained later.

B. Sustainable Uses of Coastal Habitats

  • Ask the participants to make two lists on large pieces of butcher paper attached to a wall. The first will be a list of the coastal habitats in their area. The definition of 'area' should be considered beforehand by the facilitator. A State's coast will suffice in most cases, but for States with extensive coastlines, use a region of the coast. Ask participants to think carefully, then list the most extensive type of coastal habitat first, followed by the habitat that occupies the next greatest area, etc. This information can be verified using a coastal atlas or map that covers your chosen section of coast and other sources of information on the coast in your region.

  • Start the second list by asking participants to list, in order of the amount of land they require, coastal developments or uses they know of. It does not matter if these developments or uses actually exist in the chosen coastal region. Participants may need prompting, so use Resource 2 to categorise their examples of developments and activities.

  • Some of these activities use coastal resources in a sustainable way: that is, the activity can continue without harming the environment. Which activities are ecologically sustainable, according to the goal, objectives and principles presented earlier? Which are not sustainable? Which could be sustainable if changed in some way from their present practices? These activities can be summarised in a table (see Resource 4).

  • Point out and discuss potential conflicts such as between the goal of conservation of marine life and fishing or harvesting from intertidal shores.

  • Discuss recently developed or alternative ways that some uses of coastal habitats could be made sustainable. Which of these changes (including those to our lifestyles) could be made now? Which could be made more sustainable with improved technology? Which would require building new factories, processing plants or other large-scale actions that would require a lot of time and expense? Add this information to the table.

  • Explain that in order to manage our coastal habitats, we not only need to understand which developments are (or can be) sustainable in which habitats, but how to go about deciding which ones get built. The next sections help to understand about the language and processes used in planning.

3. Getting Past the Language

This section is based around soliciting understandings of common terms and looking at how they are used in 'planning speak'. The overall aim is have participants understand the special uses of everyday terms and definitions of new ones. This section makes the understanding of planning structures and processes possible.

A. What are We Talking about Here?

  • Divide the group into pairs and give each pair an envelope containing slips from Resource 3. Ask them to match the terms and their definitions.

  • Ask the pairs to match the terms with their definitions, and place them in groups of related terms.

  • Using Reading 2 on 'Terms and Definitions: A List for Facilitators', explain that some special meanings of words you already know are used in planning for our coast's future.

  • Starting at the beginning of the terms in Reading 2, discuss the terms and definitions and note the connotations attached to some of their usage and definitions. Acknowledge that there may be some variations in the meanings of some terms in practice. Where negative connotations exist, explain the specialist use of the terms and the neutral connotations of the terms in this special application.

  • Challenge the participants to apply their understanding of the terms by repeating the above activity using the worked example in Resource 3 (a hypothetical policy on avoiding skin cancer).

  • Finally, ask the participants to make up their own policy (e.g. a fishing policy in their coastal zone), indicating goals, objectives, plans, and methods of implementation and enforcement. Prompt them to include various types of options including: no fishing, spearfishing, netting, fishing from boats, and types of gear commonly used for fishing: rod and reel, traps, nets, etc. This activity should be limited by the time available for the workshop .

4. How Does Coastal Planning Work?

A. Mini-lecture 3

  • Use Reading 3 and Resource 5, Resource 6 and Resource 7 to explain the division of responsibilities for coastal planning. The following activity provides a practical example of this process - and might be done first, with the mini-lecture used as debriefing.

B. Planning for the Coast

  • Divide participants into ten groups. The first group will represent the Commonwealth Government. Give them a copy of Resource 5. Groups 2-9 will represent State Governments. Give them a copy of Resource 6 and one of Resources 8-15 as appropriate. The last group will represent local governments. Give them a copy of Resource 7.

  • Display the list of local coastal habitats and the second list of coastal developments that you made for Activity 2B. Distribute copies of Resource 16 which describes four hypothetical coast development proposals to each group. Depending on the amount of time available, ask each group to evaluate 1, 2, 3 or all of the hypothetical proposals. Participants are to assume that development applications have been made for each of the developments. Participants may assume that the proposals would be required to go through relevant Environmental Impact Assessment processes.

  • Ask the groups to use the resources provided to identify which agencies and authorities will have a role in the approval of each of the development applications, and what their involvement would be. The local government group has the duty to report to the workshop on which government authorities they would need to consult.

  • Debriefing: Did participants have enough information on the proposals? What additional information was needed? Were all the key environmental issues identified? What problems were encountered?

C. Problems With Coastal Planning Processes

  • Display OHT 3. Many of the problems listed in OHT 3 relate to the lack of co-operation and communication in coastal planning. Display OHT 4 and, firstly, discuss the traditional approaches to planning. Some of these are still efficient planning tools, but how do they compare to newer techniques listed?

  • Describe the Environmental Impact Assessment process using Reading 4, Resource 17 and OHT 5.

  • Display OHT 6 and discuss specific problems with the Environmental Impact Assessment process.

  • Display OHT 7 and discuss some of the achievements of the Environmental Impact Assessment process.

5. How Can the Public be Involved?

The aim of this section is to invite participants to identify points in the planning process and the Environmental Impact Assessment procedures where the public can have a voice.

  • Distribute and explain the summary of the EIA process in Resource 17.

  • Ask participants to highlight those steps in the EIA process where the public has input.

  • Recall the hypothetical developments from Activity 4B. Were there opportunities for input from the public in the process of approval of those developments?

  • The EIS process provides only one direct method for public involvement in planning decisions. Ask participants if they know of other ways the public can have input to decision making that affects the coast.

  • Use Resource 18 to summarise the main methods and their relative effectiveness.

  • Ask participants to think again about the process of approval for the hypothetical developments from Activity 4B. What kind of effect might each of the methods listed on Resource 18 have on decision makers? Give each one a score (e.g. A, B or C). Remind participants that supporting positive environmental measures may be as important as preventing unsustainable developments and activities. Local councils need support to implement preventive and ameliorative programmes.

  • Summarise by acknowledging that while there appear to be few points at which the public can have input to the official planning process, many informal methods exist and can be effective. Ask for examples of these, and of the particular skills and resources a person or group needs.

6. Summary

  • Review reasons for learning about coastal planning processes.

  • Reinforce the idea that the public needs to understand and use the language, structures and processes involved in coastal planning.

  • Acknowledge that there are problems with the way coastal planning currently works, but some of these problems are being addressed, and planning now has a consistent framework in which to operate.

  • Review the achievements of, and problems with, our present system for the evaluation of environmental impacts, including the relatively few points at which the public can have a voice.

  • Reinforce the idea that public input to the planning and environmental impact assessment processes, whether achieved using formal or informal methods, is vital if we are to achieve ecologically sustainable coastal systems.