Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Earth and Environmental Sciences


Foredunes are shore-parallel sand ridges that comprise the first vegetated dune behind the beach. They can be found on many different coastlines around the world and develop through interconnected processes involving sand, wind and vegetation. Despite receiving much scientific attention in New South Wales (NSW) (and elsewhere) over the past 70 years, it is still not entirely clear what controls foredune morphology, or how humans have impacted their geomorphology, both spatially and temporally. New technology now available enables much more detailed investigations into such environments, and over much larger regions, which allows for the identification of any large-scale morphologic patterns, consideration of possible causes, and comparison of human modified and natural (or unmodified) foredune environments.

The overall objective of this study was to investigate the ecological, geomorphological and anthropogenic characteristics of NSW foredunes to assess the roles played by vegetation and human modification in their morphodynamics. It develops our understanding of foredune ecomorphology and addresses the strong community concerns regarding dune vegetation. This objective is made up of four key aims: i) test the vertical accuracy of airborne LiDAR, and develop a protocol to study foredune morphology and vegetation; ii) examine how selected foredunes have evolved over time, comparing both modified and unmodified settings; iii) examine the current morphological characteristics and regional patterns of NSW foredunes, particularly focusing on what might be causing any spatial variation in their morphology; iv) investigate the current ecomorphological characteristics of NSW foredunes, paying specific attention to dune vegetation patterns. ..



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.