Introduction to Australian coasts and human influences
Australians are famous for our love of the coast, although in many places this 'love' has caused serious and often irreversible impacts. The sustainable management of our society's many uses of the coast is complex and challenging. While a wealth of knowledge exists about the coast, this is not always brought to bear on decision-making; indeed, it is not always useful or relevant. Coastal management to date has had limited success, and in some cases interventions have made problems worse. Australia's coast has been shaped by severe events such as cyclones and floods, with climate change now increasing the number and intensity of these hazards. In addition, our coastal populations are growing, and with them our social, environmental and economic vulnerability to such hazards. In 2011 we witnessed widespread destruction in north Queensland caused by Cyclone Yasi, and severe flooding in western and south-east Queensland (SEQ) and north-west Australia that disrupted coastal communities, damaged ecosystems and stalled the national economy. The expected impacts of climate change add to the urgency and complexity of addressing existing coastal issues.