Results are in: How healthy is your beach?

The health of the Sunshine Coast's beaches, headlands, lower estuaries and coastal lagoons are in the spotlight after an investigation that researchers believe is the first of its kind across Australia.

Coolum Beach.
Coolum Beach.

The health of our beaches, headlands, lower estuaries and coastal lagoons are in the spotlight after a regional-first investigation that will help shape the future of our Biosphere’s coastline.

The inaugural Coastal Health Report, presented at Sunshine Coast Council’s Ordinary Meeting today (September 21), brings together years of monitoring and analysis in a joint project involving Council and the University of the Sunshine Coast with extra input from Healthy Land and Water.

The report will provide a baseline for the long-term monitoring of our coast as part of the Environment & Liveability Strategy target to maintain and improve the health of our coast to good or excellent grade by 2041.

Lower estuaries including Maroochy River and Mooloolah River were the healthiest type of coastal ecosystem overall, with excellent grades for water quality and public benefits and a fair grade for biodiversity.

Meanwhile, our region’s headlands such as Caloundra Headland and Moffat Headland scored highest for biodiversity as havens for an array of plants and wildlife.

Sunshine Coast Council Environment Portfolio Councillor Maria Suarez described the monitoring program and report as a “starting line” toward improving the health of our coastal ecosystems and their benefits to the community.

“Our coastal areas are central to our region’s character, community and economy, as well as the survival of many endangered and vulnerable species that call them home,” Cr Suarez said.

“This research and monitoring will help guide our decisions and highlight the areas where we can take steps to improve the health of our coastline and helps keep our community informed on the state of their local areas.”

So how did your beach fare?

Individual report cards for every beach, headland, lower estuary and coastal lagoon in the study area are available through an easy-to-use mapping tool on Council’s Environment and Liveability Strategy website, along with the full report.

A family walks Mudjimba Beach.

Environment Portfolio Councillor Peter Cox said the report card format ensured the whole community could easily access, understand and share the findings.

“I encourage everyone to explore Council’s interactive map to see their local report card,” Cr Cox said.

“In our Sunshine Coast Biosphere we all enjoy these beautiful places and have a role in keeping them healthy; this starts with everyone understanding their current state.

“As a community we can celebrate our precious coastal areas and improve upon these benchmarks.”

UniSC Senior Lecturer in Animal Ecology Dr Ben Gilby said the program was the first of its kind in Australia and set the Sunshine Coast as a leader in monitoring and communicating scientific results for coastal ecosystems.

“Our beaches and waterways are the jewels in the Sunshine Coast's crown,” Dr Gilby said.

“The strength of this program is its wide scope across all our coastal ecosystems; its focus on everything from the fish in the sea to the birds of the sky, and the physical processes that link them.

“The information is invaluable not only for coastal managers of the region, but also for residents and visitors interested in understanding more about their local environment.”

Dr Gilby also stressed the importance of the program for students at UniSC.

“It not only provides crucial information about the condition of our coastal ecosystems, but also supports significant opportunities for students, from undergraduate to PhD, to learn the skills they need for a successful career in environmental management.”

The balancing act between people and nature

Cr Suarez said some beaches, including Mooloolaba and Maroochydore, were hotspots for community and visitor use and had been managed to meet those needs.

“By ensuring these areas of significant use continue to provide great public benefit, we position these as community and tourist hubs.

“Meanwhile, at our ecologically focused beaches where we have positive dune buffer results like Coolum Beach and biodiversity results like Bokarina Beach, we want to maintain or enhance those to ensure a healthy environment and a haven for wildlife.

“This is just one of the strategies we use to balance the needs of people and nature as we continue to manage growth in our region while caring for our environment.”




Sunshine Coast Council acknowledges the Sunshine Coast Country, home of the Kabi Kabi peoples and the Jinibara peoples, the Traditional Custodians, whose lands and waters we all now share. We wish to pay respect to their Elders – past, present and emerging, and acknowledge the important role First Nations people continue to play within the Sunshine Coast community.

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