Department of the Environment

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Publications archive - Ecologically Sustainable Development


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Are We Sustaining Australia? Report Against Headline Sustainabilty Indicators

Environment Australia, 2002
ISBN 0 642 54771 8

Value 19: Coastal and marine health

Rationale for inclusion of issue

The state of the oceans and coastal areas is crucial to the health of marine ecosystems and coastal terrestrial ecosystems (Core objective 3). Marine ecological processes are also essential to the welfare of future generations (Core Objective 1) and providing for inter-generational equity (Core Objective 2).

Indicator 22

Estuarine condition index: Proportion of estuaries in near pristine or slightly modified condition at 2001


Source: Morgan, G. (2001) Landscape health in Australia - A rapid assessment of the relative condition of the bioregions and subregions of Australia. National Land and Water Resources Audit Landscape Health Project, National Land and Water Resources Audit

Rationale for selection of indicator

The estuarine condition index is a comprehensive indicator of coastal health. Given that a principal anthropogenic threat to marine health is from coastal activities, it also provides a surrogate of marine health. Estuaries act as the system sumps for catchments and therefore reflect the aggregate impact of land-based impacts. They are also the major conduit of pollutants from the terrestrial regime to the coastal and marine system and are therefore a legitimate surrogate measure of the disturbance regime of these systems.

Explanatory and elaborative information

The estuarine condition index has been developed by the NLWRA. The figure reported here shows that 72% of estuaries are still in pristine or slightly modified condition while 28% are in substantially modified condition. However, at present, this does not include data from all States.

Supplementary indicators