Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (Honours)


School of Geography and Sustainable Communities


Sea-level rise poses a looming risk for Australia’s low-lying coastal regions. Many coastal communities are expressing uncertainty and resistance to adaptation because it is perceived as a greater risk than temporally distant sea-level rise. This thesis seeks to investigate how place values and risk perceptions inform community perspectives towards sea-level rise and adaptation in the form of a levee. A novel qualitative-GIS value-risk analysis is performed using photo-mapping interviews and landscape value-mapping with five research participants in Greenwell Point, NSW.

The results chapters reveal that residents valued Greenwell Point for its diverse environments and experiences. Two primary value groupings emerged, emblematic of natural and civic place attachment. A quantitative interpretation of sea-level rise risk identified that half of those values are at high risk, while qualitative analysis revealed express concerns for ‘interconnected impacts’ spanning between and across valued sites. A quantitative interpretation of levee risk identifies almost three-fifths of values would be impacted with natural place attachment the most impacted. Participant narratives, on the other hand, expressed contradictory concerns about safety, civic place attachment, and economic impacts. Residents experienced competing psycho-social risk factors, leading many to feel conflicted about the proposed levee. This thesis concludes that qualitative-GIS elucidated greater depth, complexity, and interconnection for value and risk analysis than would have been possible with quantitative-GIS alone. This spatial-yet-qualitative methodology also enlivened resident’s risk awareness, yielding productive insights into the social impacts of sea-level rise and adaptation and ways forward for continuing to discuss and debate potential adaptation options.



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.