How can the Gold Coast adapt to climate change?

Gold Coast climate change

Biodiversity the world over is under constant threat. In Australia alone, we’ve seen devastating bushfires, bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef and mass fish kills in the Murray Darling Basin The world, and especially Australia, needs people with the commitment, knowledge and skills to take on the ecological and environmental challenges at a local, national and global level. 

Our second year students studying Urban Ecology and Biodiversity were recently given the opportunity to present their recommendations on adapting to climate change on the Gold CoastRead below on their experience studying the subject and their key learnings. 

 

NameEmily Havas 

Degree: Bachelor of Environmental Science Majoring in Urban Environments and Environmental Management  

gold coast biodiversity student

What do you like about studying ecology and biodiversity?

Studying urban ecology has really opened my eyes to the environment that I live within, and what ecosystem interactions are occurring within those urban environments. As I am majoring in urban environments, studying urban ecology has helped me understand the importance of urban planning with a focus on promoting biodiversity within cities.  

What was your biggest takeaway from your project on climate change on the Gold Coast?

The most significant takeaway from this project was the importance of vegetation within highly urbanised areas like the Gold Coast. Vegetation within cities can provide many ecosystem services which are the many benefits that humans gain from nature. Within urban environments some ecosystem services include managing stormwater runoff, regulating climate and improving the health of city residents. These ecosystem services are important to the Gold Coast as the city is likely to face many impacts from climate change. 

“One significant impact the Gold Coast will face is more frequent weather events that can create excess stormwater”

There are two major issues that cities face with excess stormwater management. Firstly, the traditional stormwater systems can’t handle excess stormwater and secondly, excess stormwater can transfer pollutants. Looking around the city you can see large, concrete channels and drains that take away our stormwater. These traditional concreted designs may seem like they work well, but they can only handle so much water before they fill up and cause flooding. Concrete doesn’t absorb much water, and generally it will runoff into the nearest stormwater drain. In the process, the water takes all the litter and pollutants from the roads and footpaths and deposits them straight into our waterways.  

One solution to these stormwater problems lies within proper stormwater management. In Australia, Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) is a planning and design approach that more effectively manages the urban water cycle. Vegetation naturally absorbs water and pollutants, and WSUD implements specialised vegetation to manage water, prevent floods and stop pollutants from entering waterways. 

 

Name: Georgia Quick 

DegreeBachelor of Urban and Environmental Planning / Bachelor of Science 

What do you like about studying ecology and biodiversity?

I’ve always been interested in the interaction between the living and non-living components of natural environments. Since beginning a planning degree, it has also been interesting to explore this in an urban context.   

I enjoyed studying urban ecology because it not only gave insight into the ways that different components of an environment interact and function but this also applied to an urban setting, where we considered how ecosystems react to human interactions and especially interactions related to urbanisation. 

I found that in the context of a planning degree, learning ecology helps you think a little more deeply about the impacts of human interactions with natural and built environments because it gives you an understanding of how they function. This allows you to evaluate how different environments could react to different uses, whether that be in a negative or positive way, which is useful when considering the environment in a planning context. 

“The aim of the project was to consider what the Gold Coast could look like if we took serious action against climate change by exploring likely impacts and some possible solutions that could be used here.”

What was your biggest takeaway from your project on climate change on the Gold Coast?

The aim of the project was to consider what the Gold Coast could look like if we took serious action against climate change by exploring likely impacts and some possible solutions that could be used here. The project allowed me to explore opportunities for reducing the city’s contributions to greenhouse gas emissions as well as ways that the Gold Coast could prepare itself to deal with climate change impacts, whether that be through protecting lifestyle, infrastructure or the natural environment.  

The biggest thing I took away from the assignment was the different ways that biodiversity could be encouraged in cities like the Gold Coast and the benefits of embracing urban biodiversity when it comes to addressing climate change. The assignment served as an opportunity to consider different ways that natural and built environments could become more connected and the services that are provided from promoting biodiversity in cities, such as keeping the city cooler, managing flood risk and encouraging good human health.  

 

Learn more about studying environmental science at Griffith University.

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