Coastal flood risk within a peri-urban area: SUSSEX Inlet district, SE Australia

Publication Name

Natural Hazards


The peri-urban interface (PUI) exhibits characteristic qualities of both urban and rural regions, and this complexity has meant that risk assessments and long-term planning for PUI are lagging, despite these areas representing new developing settlement frontiers. This study aims to address this knowledge gap by modifying an existing approach to quantify and assess flood risk. The risk triangle framework was used to map exposure, vulnerability and biophysical variables; however, in a novel application, the risk triangle framework was adapted by presuming that there is a variation in the degree of exposure, vulnerability and biophysical variables. Within Australia and globally, PUIs are often coastal, and flood risk associated with rainfall and coastal inundation poses considerable risk to communities in the PUI; these risks will be further exacerbated should projections of increasing frequency of extreme rainfall events and accelerating sea-level rise eventuate. An indicator-based approach using the risk triangle framework that maps flood hazard, exposure and vulnerability was used to integrate the biophysical and socio-economic flooding risk for communities in PUI of the St Georges Basin and Sussex Inlet catchments of south-eastern Australia. Integrating the flood risk triangle with future scenarios of demographic and climate change, and considering factors that contribute to PUI flood risk, facilitated the identification of planning strategies that would reduce the future rate of increase in flood risk. These planning strategies are useful for natural resource managers and land use planners across Australia and globally, who are tasked with balancing socio-economic prosperity for a changing population, whilst maintaining and enhancing ecosystem services and values. The indicator-based approach used in this study provides a cost-effective first-pass risk assessment and is a valuable tool for decision makers planning for flood risk across PUIs in NSW and globally.

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