The Victorian Coastal Monitoring Program – Development and Implementation

Mr Lawrance Ferns1, Mr Viktor Brenners1

1Department Of Environment, Land, Water & Planning


Climate change impacts are projected to increase the risks of coastal hazards, including sea-level rise, inundation, erosion and storms. These hazards will vary geographically across Victoria’s coast based on the unique characteristics of each particular coastal setting (climatic, topographic, geomorphic, socio-economic).

The Victorian Coastal Monitoring Program (VCMP) is a 4 year program that started in 2017 to inform spatial prioritisation of monitoring investment effort along Victoria’s coastline and to ensure that data collected is managed centrally and made publicly available. It will provide communities with information on coastal condition, change, hazards, and the expected impacts associated with climate change that will facilitate evidence-based decision making (i.e. invest in protection and intervention, or adaptation, or retreat).

The VCMP will set up targeted data gathering and systematic monitoring programs within four program delivery themes:
1. Embayments and estuaries
2. Exposed sandy beach/dune shores and headland/reef controlled beaches
3. Protection structures and adaptation options
4. Decision support and visualisation tools

The VCMP aims to:
· Employ risk assessment frameworks to consider current and future risks to natural coastlines and engineered structures, that will inform prioritisation of coastal monitoring.
· Develop partnerships with community groups and institutions to co-invest in coastal monitoring projects at both regional and local scales.
· Develop data management infrastructure and decision support tools to inform policy evaluation and application, planning and climate adaptation instruments, and investment and maintenance decisions for coastal protection structures.

This paper will describe how the VCMP was developed, its current status and plans for its long term future.


Lawrance Ferns is currently Acting Manager of Marine Policy & Programs Section of the Biodiversity Division in the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning. The Biodiversity Division has a well established history managing environmental data for use in management applications, particularly modelling of data to inform spatial planning and information products.

Lawrance has an extensive career in marine ecology and planning. In the early 1990s he developed the Northern Territory’s first geo-spatial database of marine & coastal data and to underpin the Marine & Coastal Regionalisation of Northern Australia, and in later years was project manager for the Environmental Inventory of Victoria’s Marine Ecosystems. Both these projects supported the future identification of marine protected areas.

In later years, Lawrance moved into the terrestrial realm and for 9 years was coordinator of Victoria’s Fire Ecology Program that introduced new approaches for integrating spatial ecology principles into fire management planning.

Since late 2016, Lawrance has returned to the marine realm, and amongst a range of topics, has been managing the Victorian Coastal Monitoring Program. An important implementation stage of this Program has been to first undertake a spatial prioritisation of the coastal zone based on coastal vulnerability mapping depicting erosion and inundation under future climate change scenarios. Lawrance would like to present how Victoria is establishing a long term monitoring program to understand how the coast is changing in response to a changing climate.