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.
Please see the YourSAy site for details of the lakes involved in the project.
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 Lake Bonney SE, Lake George, Lake St Clair, Lake Eliza, Lake Hawdon North. Mullins Swamp was part of the South East Coastal Lakes Project and during investigations it was identified that the land tenure of Mullins Swamp is different from the other lakes as it is not subject to a Native Title claim, and for this reason it has been removed from the project and its proposed future management is being consulted on separately.
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.
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.
Proposals for management and your input
In 2022, phase one of the project engaged with the community and stakeholders to understand how people use and value the lakes and identified the environmental assets, needs and risks.
DEW analysed this data to explore areas for improvement in the management of the lakes into the future and integrated the community’s values and needs into a document that proposes a new way of managing the lakes into the future.
DEW invites feedback from all sections of the community to ensure concerns and expectations are well understood and considered in deciding how the South East Coastal Lakes are managed into the future.
Here is a link to the proposal document.
You are invited to have your say on the proposals through the YourSAy website.
Consultation will be open until Friday 28 July 2023.
Have questions not covered here? Contact us at DEWProtectedAreaManagement@sa.gov.au.
After all submissions received from Phase two consultation have been carefully considered, a final proposal document will be prepared and forwarded to the Minister for Climate, Environment and Water for consideration together with a detailed analysis of submissions received.
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.
- South Eastern Wetlands Committee (1984). Wetland resources of the South East of South Australia — investigations of wetland areas in the South East of South Australia for conservation and recreation uses. South Eastern Wetlands Committee, Adelaide (available in hardcopy only).
- The South East Coastal Lakes Strategy, Lands SA, 1991
- Drainage and Wetlands Strategy 2019
- All Wetlands Great and Small – A guide to the wetlands diversity of the South East
- Migratory Shorebird Site Action Plans
Adjacent parks management plans
- Beachport Conservation Park, adopted 1990
- Canunda National Park adopted 1990 and amended 1993
- Lake St Clair Conservation Park, adopted 2011
- Little Dip Conservation Park management plan — Adopted 1992, Amended 1997 and Amended 2020
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:
- Healthy Coorong Healthy Basin On-Ground Works, Lake Hawdon North
- See also: The Lake Hawdon North Study
- The Lake George Flow Restoration Feasibility Study
This community engagement project is supported by grant funding from the Nature Conservancy.