Australia needs coordinated investment in marine and coastal restoration to manage and protect sensitive habitats, biodiversity and water quality, and prevent coastal inundation and erosion, and the spread of invasive species. Successful restoration efforts typically include ‘nature-based’ solutions such as restoring dunes, wetlands and biogenic reefs, and involve all stakeholders in project design and implementation.

Marine and Coastal Hub Project 1.6: ‘A roadmap for coordinated landscape-scale coastal and marine ecosystem restoration’ identified a lack of support for the adoption of nature-based ideas and technology, and limited inclusion of Traditional Owner groups in the design and implementation of restoration projects.

This hub project aims to identify and examine policy and legislative barriers to marine and coastal restoration, the role and importance of co-design and inclusion, and barriers to nature-based solution adoption in Australia. Consultation will include policy and permitting regulators, engineering sectors and non-government groups and Indigenous groups participating in restoration activities.


Legal barriers to restoration

The project team will review approval and regulating agencies and legislative permitting processes relating in Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia to examine their influence on project success or where projects did not proceed. The focus will be on oyster reef restoration and tidal reintroduction for wetland restoration.

They will engage with the national Wetland and Aquatic Ecosystems Task Force, and the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change, Energy the Environment and Water in relation to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, Ramsar wetlands, and threatened and migratory species. State governments, and non-government agencies and practitioners participating in coastal wetland restoration will also be consulted.

Engineering adoption for nature-based solutions

Coastal managers commonly look to engineering and/or environmental consultants to design coastal protection infrastructure. There is scope for greater inclusion of nature-based solutions in large-scale coastal protection, but little engagement has occurred with the engineering sector to understand the barriers to adoption. This will be addressed through consultation with key engineering and environmental consultancies.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inclusion and co-design

The project team will seek an understanding of processes that Indigenous groups in Australia have gone through to undertake work on Country. This includes exploring barriers relating to project participation, design and implementation.

Expected outcomes

This project will provide guidance for governments and restoration proponents on navigating legal and permitting processes relevant to nature-based restoration, and the importance of traditional environmental knowledge. This will support investment and engagement in restoration, with associated benefits for recreational and commercial fishers, conservation and coastal society.

Project location