Wetland conservation and climate change adaptation through statutory land use planning: a Tasmanian case study

Dr Vishnu Prahalad1

1University of Tasmania


Coastal wetlands and waterways are important for biodiversity conservation and the provision of ecosystem services. Many have been under threat from land clearing, infill development and, increasingly, to sea level rise. Such wetlands not only need to be conserved at their present locations, they must be also able to retreat landwards if ecological functionality and resilience are to be maintained. While land use planning processes and applications can provide a structured approach for both in situ conservation and preservation of retreat pathways, rarely have these outcomes been achieved. This presentation documents the development of GIS-based State-wide wetlands and waterways and coastal refugia planning overlays in Tasmania, south-eastern Australia, for inclusion within the new State-wide planning system. The overlays were designed to conserve current wetland extent, their buffers and future retreat areas. This presentation discusses the technical, procedural and socio-political context in which the overlays were developed. The overlays provide a useful planning tool for evaluating how best to facilitate wetland conservation and climate change adaptation. Though, the sustained and effective use of the overlays is contingent on increasing socio-political awareness of the functions, benefits and ecosystem services of wetlands and waterways.


Vishnu Prahalad is a Lecturer in Physical Geography at the Discipline of Geography & Spatial Sciences at the University of Tasmania. He has varied research interests ranging from saltmarsh and wetland ecology, science communication, community engagement, planning and management, systems thinking, moral philosophy and political economy. Vishnu’s research and teaching focuses on supporting varied organisations and community groups through engagement, capacity building and incentives, to foster sustainable systems of production and consumption.


The Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) is the principal body representing geographers and promoting the study and application of geography in Australia. It was founded in 1958 and since then has promoted, supported and defended Australian geography.

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