Options for assessing cumulative impact and risk to environmental values in Matters of National Environmental Significance and Australian Marine Parks

Understanding the existing impacts and the risks of new impacts on Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES) and Australian Marine Parks (AMPs) remains a significant challenge for all stakeholders who have an interest in the Marine Environment. Coasts and oceans provide a range of vital services such as food, transport, recreation, waste disposal and cultural inspiration. These services are under a range of pressures, including harvesting, habitat loss, pollution, and climate change, while the demands of a growing human population continue to rise. Managing pressures in this complicated ecological, social and economic environment is challenging and it will not always be possible to achieve agreed objectives. Many coastal environments are expected to degrade given the increasing strength of external factors, including climate change, that cannot be managed locally, which will diminish these ecosystems and the services that they provide. Successful management that can slow or even reverse these trends requires understanding the long-term capacity of ocean ecosystems to respond to increasing or new pressures, identifying appropriate tools that communities, industry and government are able and willing to use to determine sustainable resource use, and providing access to this information. One of the key sets of tools available to ensure that long term outcomes are sustainable are through Environmental Impact Assessments and incorporating tools to assess cumulative impacts into EIA remains a challenge.

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