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About coastal management

Queensland’s coast is a significant natural resource and provides valuable ecosystem services that support the state’s economic and social well being. The mainland coastline stretches for more than 6,900 kilometres. It is ecologically diverse with a variety of both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems as well as iconic beaches, foreshores and headlands.

However, the high demand for use of coastal land by the community can result in coastal environments becoming degraded or used for purposes contrary to the objectives of the Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995 (Coastal Act).

Coastal environments constantly adapt to change as a result of dynamic natural processes, such as tides, waves, floods, storms and cyclones, and changes in sea level. Climate change impacts, such as increasing sea levels and increasing intensity of storms and cyclones will compound and extend the vulnerability of Queensland’s low-lying coastal areas to coastal hazards. Degraded environments can accelerate this rate of change and increase instability in coastal environments.

Coastal planning

Sound coastal planning and management is vital to help protect and conserve the coast’s important cultural, ecological and natural values.

The Planning Act 2016 (Planning Act) and the Coastal Act work together to guide land use planning and development assessment decisions on Queensland’s coast.

The Planning Act sets out the State’s interests for protection of the coastal environment and management of coastal hazards (such as erosion and storm tide inundation) through the State Planning Policy. It also provides the tools to trigger development for assessment.

The Coastal Act supports the protection of the coast and coastal resources through the provision of technical information to inform planning decisions. This includes the declaration of erosion prone areas and coastal management districts and the setting of development assessment codes for the Planning Act.  

Key coastal management initiatives, which support the objectives of the Coastal Act, include:

  • Coastal Management Plan
  • Shoreline management plans
  • QCoast2100.

Coastal Management Plan

The Coastal Management Plan provides guidance for the protection, conservation, rehabilitation and management of the coastal zone, including its resources and biological diversity.

It provides coastal land managers with guidance on management planning, activities and works that are not defined as coastal development activities under the Planning Act.

Key management policies dealt with by the plan include:

  • maintaining coastal landforms and physical coastal processes
  • conserving nature
  • maintaining access to coastal resources for indigenous cultural activities
  • maintaining or enhancing public access
  • management planning
  • knowledge sharing and community engagement.

Find out more about Coastal Management Plan.

Shoreline erosion management plans

Shoreline erosion management plans (SEMPs) enable local governments and their communities to develop effective and sustainable erosion management strategies to:

  • identify significant coastal erosion issues
  • develop an understanding of the underlying coastal processes contributing to erosion problems
  • develop and evaluate options for erosion protection and management
  • facilitate community input on coastal erosion issues
  • assist planning for the delivery of selected erosion protection and management options.

Further information on developing a plan is available in the guideline Preparing a shoreline erosion management plan (PDF, 249KB).

For technical support in relation to develop a SEMP, email coastal.support@des.qld.gov.au.

Qcoast2100

The QCoast2100 program supports coastal councils and their communities to plan and prepare for storm tide, coastal erosion and rising sea levels resulting from climate change.

For more information visit QCoast2100.

Coastal development

The Queensland Government regulates development activities in coastal area to protect natural values and minimise the impact of coastal hazards.

Coastal development generally requires assessment under the Planning Act 2016 (Planning Act) to ensure it is managed to protect and conserve environmental, social and economic coastal resources and enhance the resilience of coastal communities to coastal hazards.

Find out more about coastal development.

Related information

Find out more about Queensland’s coastal environment and ecosystems.