South East Coastal Lakes Project

Iden­ti­fy­ing man­age­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties for the South East coastal lakes

Along the coast­line in the South East of South Aus­tralia there are a num­ber of coastal lakes that pro­vide impor­tant habi­tat for water­birds and have unique fea­tures that are high­ly val­ued by First Nations peo­ple and the wider community. 

The Depart­ment for Envi­ron­ment and Water (DEW) is under­tak­ing an engage­ment and plan­ning process to iden­ti­fy oppor­tu­ni­ties to man­age the lakes to ensure their unique fea­tures and val­ues are pro­tect­ed and main­tained into the future. 

This includes con­sid­er­ing how to bal­ance oppor­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple to enjoy the lakes through activ­i­ties such as fish­ing, boat­ing, hunt­ing, camp­ing, walk­ing, bird­watch­ing and wind­surf­ing, with envi­ron­men­tal and cul­tur­al her­itage values. 

Lakes includ­ed in the project are:

The Boandik / Bun­gan­ditj peo­ple are the Tra­di­tion­al Own­ers of the lands where the coastal lakes are located.

Val­ued by many

The lakes are val­ued coun­try for First Nations peo­ple and have sites of cul­tur­al sig­nif­i­cance and pro­vide impor­tant places for totems and cul­tur­al practices. 

The lakes pro­vide impor­tant habi­tat for a range of water­birds includ­ing a num­ber of migra­to­ry species list­ed on the Envi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion and Bio­di­ver­si­ty Con­ser­va­tion Act 1999 and species of nation­al and state con­ser­va­tion sig­nif­i­cance. Migra­to­ry shore­birds from the North­ern Hemi­sphere use it as an impor­tant habi­tat area on the East Asian-Aus­tralasian Flyway.

The lakes also pro­vide impor­tant recre­ation oppor­tu­ni­ties includ­ing bird watch­ing, hunt­ing, walk­ing, camp­ing, wind­surf­ing, boat­ing and fish­ing. The lakes are becom­ing increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar with tourists from both with­in South Aus­tralia and inter­state. Beach­port and Robe have increased in pop­u­lar­i­ty being attrac­tive beach­side towns, fur­ther increas­ing vis­i­ta­tion to the lakes. 

Improved Man­age­ment

The South East coastal lakes and much of the sur­round­ing land is unalien­at­ed Crown land man­aged by the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice SA under the Crown Land Man­age­ment Act 2009.

A num­ber of com­mu­ni­ty groups and indi­vid­u­als have made impor­tant con­tri­bu­tions to the lakes’ man­age­ment for many years. Look­ing at oppor­tu­ni­ties for improved man­age­ment will build on this work and help man­age impacts from altered hydrol­o­gy, adjoin­ing and upstream agri­cul­tur­al land use and unreg­u­lat­ed recre­ation activities.

His­tor­i­cal dis­cus­sions about the lakes

Iden­ti­fy­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties to bet­ter man­age the lakes is not new and has been dis­cussed and to some extent imple­ment­ed over a num­ber of decades. 

In 1980, the South East Wet­lands Com­mit­tee was tasked with plan­ning region­al water resource man­age­ment and asked for sub­mis­sions from any­one with ideas on any aspect of con­ser­va­tion or recre­ation­al uses of wet­lands. Over four years, the com­mit­tee inves­ti­gat­ed over 80 sites and in 1984 report­ed on rec­om­men­da­tions for future man­age­ment of each site. Exam­ples of this include water qual­i­ty improve­ments at Lake Bon­ney and the prepa­ra­tion of the Lake Bon­ney Man­age­ment Plan. 

In 1991, the then Depart­ment of Lands wrote The South East Coastal Lakes Strat­e­gy, which under­took sim­i­lar exer­cise over the lakes men­tioned above. The strat­e­gy out­lines goals to deter­mine each lakes future and pri­or­i­ties for man­age­ment plans.

In 2019, the South East Drainage and Wet­lands Strat­e­gy was pub­lished, as an over­ar­ch­ing guide for the improved man­age­ment of sur­face water and wetlands. 

This cur­rent project is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to bring all the pre­vi­ous work togeth­er, along­side the feed­back from the cur­rent con­sul­ta­tion to deliv­er the best pos­si­ble man­age­ment out­comes for the lakes.

Options for man­age­ment and your input

Oppor­tu­ni­ties for man­age­ment of the lakes includes under­stand­ing the cur­rent arrange­ments, explor­ing poten­tial changes in land tenure, and con­sid­er­a­tion of oth­er man­age­ment arrange­ments sug­gest­ed dur­ing the consultation.

We want to pro­vide greater cer­tain­ty about man­age­ment objec­tives for the lakes and facil­i­tate gov­ern­ment and oth­er invest­ment in their management. 

The key objec­tives of phase one of the engage­ment dur­ing April and June 2022 were to:

  • bet­ter under­stand how the lakes are cur­rent­ly used
  • under­stand how the lakes are valued
  • iden­ti­fy oppor­tu­ni­ties to bet­ter man­age the lakes to main­tain their unique and icon­ic nat­ur­al fea­tures while pro­vid­ing access for their ongo­ing enjoyment.

To help iden­ti­fy oppor­tu­ni­ties to man­age the South East coastal lakes we heard from you about:

  • how you cur­rent­ly use the lakes
  • what you val­ue about the lakes
  • how you think the lakes could be man­aged in the future to ensure they can be used and enjoyed while main­tain­ing and pro­tect­ing their unique and icon­ic features.

Oppor­tu­ni­ties to par­tic­i­pate in the engage­ment included:

  • an online work­shop on the evening of Tues­day 17 May
  • a region­al work­shop in Mil­li­cent on the evening of Thurs­day 16 June 2022
  • an online sur­vey, for those unable to make it to the work­shops — sur­vey closed 19 June 2022
  • tar­get­ed meet­ings with key stake­hold­er groups.

Have ques­tions not cov­ered here? Con­tact us at DEWProtectedAreaManagement@​sa.​gov.​au.

Fre­quent­ly asked questions

What’s next?

Infor­ma­tion gath­er­ing is the first phase of this project.

Infor­ma­tion and stake­hold­er input from phase one will be col­lect­ed and col­lat­ed for the Min­is­ter for Cli­mate, Envi­ron­ment and Water’s con­sid­er­a­tion ahead of Phase two.

Phase two con­sul­ta­tion will include pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on a pro­pos­al out­lin­ing man­age­ment options for the coastal lakes. Details on this con­sul­ta­tion phase will be made avail­able after Phase one is complete. 

Phase two is expect­ed to take place in 2023.

Back­ground, relat­ed projects and fur­ther information

Select­ed back­ground infor­ma­tion includ­ing pre­vi­ous strate­gies, man­age­ment plans for parks adja­cent lakes, and migra­to­ry bird action plans relat­ed to the low­er lakes can be found below. 

Adja­cent parks man­age­ment plans 

Oth­er projects in the area

There are oth­er relat­ed projects and pro­grams hap­pen­ing in the area. The South East Coastal Lakes project aims to com­pli­ment those projects:

This com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment project is sup­port­ed by grant fund­ing from the Nature Con­ser­van­cy via the Wyss Foundation.