ECOS Issue 140: Time for a sea change in coastal development

By December 19th, 2007

Ecos 140 looks at the future of a remote and pristine stretch of the South Australian coastline that has become the focus of intense debate between local environment groups, developers and government. The case reflects the intensifying pressure on Australia’s coastal habitats as developments follow the quest for sea-side properties.

Corvisart, Sceale, Searcy and Baird Bays on the western Eyre Peninsula, 700 km west of Adelaide, are home to endangered osprey and white-bellied sea eagle populations, one of the world’s smallest sea-stars and a breeding sea-lion colony discovered in 2002.

There are growing pressures at local government level to approve development in environmentally sensitive areas in the region – such as houses in zones adjacent to the high limestone cliffs that harbour osprey nests.

A local conservation group has doggedly lobbied the SA Government and other authorities to help stop inappropriate development overriding recommendations. They are calling for legislative tightening and a more robust management plan for the 100-kilometre-long ‘Chain of Bays’ to protect the region’s unique environment.

The smarter energy future

Energy efficiency savings are the quickest, easiest and most effective way to reduce carbon emissions. Ecos looks at the contribution energy efficiency could make in reducing Australia’s base-load electricity demand – a demand currently met by coal-fired power stations – as well as the capability of renewables and distributed systems to deliver base-load supply. Economic modelling has shown that implementing energy efficiency opportunities in Australia will also increase GDP, create thousands of new jobs and delay for decades the need to build new, capital-intensive power infrastructure.


With only 10 per cent of the continent protected in conservation reserves, much of the responsibility for conservation of biodiversity and habitat rests on the shoulders of private landholders. Following the Federal Government’s announcement earlier this year of a A$50 million Environmental Stewardship Programme for landholders, Ecos investigates how land stewardship programs work and how they are being integrated into continental-scale habitat corridor programs that re-connect scattered pockets of remnant bushland, enabling rare and endangered wildlife species to move between their shrinking refuges.

Other stories in issue 140 include:

  • Youth-powered post-tsunami recovery: A local ‘Youth Leverage’ program set up in 2005 is enabling remote southern Thai villages to recover from the impact of the 2004 tsunami. University post-graduates travel to villages to train young people in researching and setting up projects such as securing food supplies and identifying income-generating opportunities.
  • Guide to carbon credits: While paying for tree-planting or buying renewable energy credits has become a popular way for people and organisations to offset carbon emissions, not all carbon offset options are the same, as Ecos 140 explains.
  • Wider perspective on whales: A team from the Australian Antarctic Division are using piloted aircraft to survey minke whales off the Antarctic coastline to set sustainable catch limits. Meanwhile, off Queensland’s coast researchers are trialling unmanned drones for surveying of dugongs and humpback whales.
  • Ferals in Kakadu: Ridding Kakadu National Park of feral animals is no easy matter – some such as swamp buffalo have become a food source for indigenous communities living inside the park. Buffalo numbers are on the rise but effective control will require consultation and a sustained effort.

ECOS magazine – Issue 140 is available at major national newsagents or at CSIRO Publishing – Ecos Magazine Issue 140.

Download image at: ECOS: Australia’s magazine on sustainability. Issue 140.

Fast facts

  • Stories in issue Ecos 140 include:
  • The smarter energy future
  • Land-minders
  • Youth-powered post-tsunami recovery:
  • Guide to carbon credits
  • Wider perspective on whales
  • Ferals in Kakadu