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Coastal Management

Byron Shire Coastline

Byron Shire’s coastline extends from the Tweed-Byron Shire border in the Billinudgel Nature Reserve in the north, to Byron-Ballina Shire border in the south.

The coastline includes sandy beaches, rocky shores and headlands, rivers and creek entrances.  The iconic Cape Byron is a dominant feature of the coastline and is the eastern most point of mainland Australia with sweeping views to the north and south.

The Byron Shire coastal zone is considered to be among the most picturesque and valued coastal areas in Australia.  The coastal zone is renowned for its biological diversity and natural beauty and supports the highest number of threatened species of conservation significance in New South Wales.  It is both a world-renowned tourist destination and an integral part of Byron Shire's urban landscape.

Byron Shire Coastline Source: Peter Gibney

As with any other coastline in the world, the Byron Shire coastline is subject to natural physical processes such as coastal recession, erosion and accretion. The unique feature of Byron Bay's coastline is that, due to situational and geomorphologic factors, these natural processes are occurring at a significant rate.

The coastline is also subject to the damaging effects of short-term storm events. Storms in the form of East Coast Lows (most common in April/May) and Tropical Depressions (December to April) are a typical feature of the Byron Shire climate. Tropical Cyclones (December to April) also impact the Shire from time to time.  The effects of these storm events may be dramatic, as storm derived waves pound the coastline with enormous force, at times resulting in significant coastal erosion and damage.

Coastal Erosion Source: Troy Harris

Another important consideration for managing the Byron Shire Coastline are the predicted impacts associated with anthropogenic climate change and forecast sea level rise. The best projections of sea level rise along the NSW coast, relative to 1990 sea levels, are 40cm by 2050 and 90cm by 2100. (Formerly the NSW Sea Level Rise Policy Statement, Department of Environment and Climate Change, 2009)

Byron Shire’s coastline management is guided by the Coastal Protection Act 1979 and the NSW Coastal Policy 1997. Under this framework, the Minister for the Environment, Robyn Parker MP, has issued Council with a Direction to submit a draft emergency action sub plan and a draft coastal zone management plan for the Byron Bay Embayment.

Click here for a summary of Council's coastal work program.