Climate change impacts on coastal Communities

Climate change has consequences for coastal Great Barrier Reef communities through impacts on key industries. There are also likely to be other effects on coastal development and human health, for example changes in water quality.

Impacts

Individuals, communities, and industries in the Great Barrier Reef catchment depend directly or indirectly on the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem for goods and services. These take the form of direct economic benefits (including commercial activities such as tourism and fishing), social services (including recreational activities and cultural linkages) and environmental services (including shoreline protection from barrier reefs and mangrove stands).

Human health and coastal development are other ways in which the Great Barrier Reef social system is vulnerable to climate change. Health risks related to climate change include heat-related stress and death, increases in water and vector borne (by insect) diseases and declining water availability.

Towns and associated infrastructure will be affected by changes in demand for energy, changing land values and land use systems, changing liveability and lifestyle and by direct impacts on buildings and structures from extreme weather.

Outlook

Climate change is likely to place coastal development at risk, primarily due to predicted sea level rises.

There is a need for greater knowledge and understanding about community and industry vulnerability to climate change in the Great Barrier Reef; for information showing how people and organisations have adapted to change in the past; and research into stakeholder and community attitudes and perspectives on management options that will facilitate effective change processes.