Economic, social and environmental analysis informs climate change pathways in Western Australia.

The Owen Anchorage and Cockburn Sound coastline is complex. It is characterised by relatively low energy, fetch-restricted and wave-impacted beaches, as well as more exposed, rocky systems. There are a variety of land uses along the coastline, including industrial, recreational, residential and commercial development. This makes the area vital to both the local and state economies, as well as to social values.

We worked with BMT Oceania and the City of Cockburn to develop the Cockburn Sound Coastal Vulnerability Values and Risk Assessment – the second stage of a wider climate change adaptation project for the Cockburn Sound Coastal Alliance.

The study assessed and prioritised adaptation to climate change options for the Cockburn Sound region of Western Australia, including the coastlines of Fremantle South, Cockburn, Kwinana and Rockingham.

An important role for our team was to assess the area’s assets in terms of their economic, social and environmental value. To do this, we identified the area’s existing infrastructure assets, beaches and parks. We then applied different valuation methods, depending on the nature of the asset. We calculated the risk to the assets from coastal erosion and inundation in terms of net present value, as well as the cumulative value of the loss of assets over a 100-year period.

We also reviewed three potential coastal adaptation pathways for the region:

  • early retreat
  • protecting existing development and community values, and
  • protecting existing development and allowing for new development for as long as possible.

Our team assessed the likely impacts of each of these pathways on the local government areas within the study via broad cost-benefit analysis.

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