Factors influencing the Region’s values
The fastest population growth will continue to be in the coastal regional centres of the catchment.19 The Gladstone and Isaac local government areas are expected to expand particularly rapidly, due to increased activity in the resources sector.17 In contrast, the population of Charters Towers, an inland regional centre, is projected to remain static over the next 25 years.17 With an increasing population comes intensification of coastal development in urban areas to accommodate residents and provide supporting services. For example, Townsville’s population is projected to grow to 314,000 by 2036.17 As a result, its number of dwellings is predicted to increase from an estimated 71,000 in 2011 to about 130,500 over the 35 years.20 Population growth is likely to increase use of the Region, indicated by increasing vessel ownership in the catchment21 (see Figure 5.19). In turn, there is likely to be increasing demand for coastal infrastructure to access the Region (for example, roads, marinas and boat ramps) including in previously undeveloped sections of the coast. New residents moving into coastal areas adjacent to the Region may have less knowledge of its management arrangements than longer term residents, although this is yet to be quantified.
6.2.3 Technological development
Technological development refers to the application of knowledge to create tools to solve specific social, economic or environmental problems. Technological advances have brought major changes to the way people communicate, work, learn, travel and spend leisure time. Technology has changed understanding, management and use of the Region. It can drive both positive and negative changes. Examples of its influence include: • Global positioning systems allow safer navigation of the Reef and the ability to more reliably locate sites and share locations with others. This technology also provides opportunities for sharing spatial information about the Reef and how it is used, and is providing an increasing number of spatial datasets for management. • Researchers use state-of-the-art satellite imagery, oceanographic instruments, laboratory equipment, numerical modelling and portable weather stations to better understand, explain and predict changes in Reef condition and the factors that affect it, significantly improving understanding of the Region and contributing to its management. • The combination of depth sounders and global positioning systems have improved fishers’ ability to find fish, accurately relocate previous fishing sites and target deep shoals, wrecks and fish aggregation areas. • In the catchment, advances in farming technology are reducing the use of fertilisers and pesticides, and reducing soil disturbance and erosion. This is helping to slow and reverse negative trends in Reef water quality with economic benefits for farmers.22,23 • Continuing advances in communication technology have resulted in increased education, awareness and involvement of the public in environmental monitoring of the Region, for example through use of the Eye on the Reef smart phone application. Into the future, technological developments which better guide and monitor shipping traffic, enhance visitor experiences, reduce carbon emissions, monitor Reef use, spatially represent values and impacts, and contribute to the collective understanding of the Reef, will enable the environment to be better protected and managed. Changing vessel and navigational technology is likely to change the spatial patterns of fishing, tourism and recreational use, including allowing vessels to safely reach new, more distant locations and better focus their use on preferred locations.
Technology has changed understanding, management and use of the Region.
6.2.4 Societal attitudes