Coastal management toolkit

The coastal management toolkit contains information and guidance to help councils to manage the NSW coast and prepare coastal management programs.

The toolkit provides additional technical information to help councils to meet the requirements of the Coastal Management Act 2016 (CM Act), the State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018 and the Coastal management manual (the manual).

The toolkit contains links to additional resources that councils may find useful in preparing and implementing a coastal management program (CMP).

The toolkit will be updated as new information becomes available.

Key guidelines to support preparation of coastal management programs

Community and stakeholder engagement

The Community and stakeholder engagement guidelines provide advice to assist councils to identify stakeholders, establish engagement outcomes, appropriate engagement methods and tools and the importance of processes that strengthen relationships and trust. A list of relevant engagement references is included.

Engaging with Aboriginal people

These guidelines support coastal councils to engage Aboriginal people through approaches that are culturally safe, respectful and reciprocal when preparing a coastal management program.

During the planning phase of a coastal management program, it is essential to consider how Aboriginal people will be offered culturally safe engagement opportunities. Culturally safe engagement approaches will help identify how a coastal management program may support the aspirations and cultural practices of Aboriginal people and enhance community leadership in caring for Country.

Risk-based framework for considering waterway health

This document provides information to assist councils to consider the potential impacts of land-use change on a coastal waterway, evaluate risks and identify appropriate management responses.

Integrating the risk-based framework with your coastal management program

Integrating the risk-based framework with your coastal management program summarises where the key tasks to deliver the 5 steps of the Risk-based framework for considering waterway health outcomes in strategic land-use planning decisions overlap or directly align with the guidance for the 5 stages of developing a coastal management program.

 Using cost-benefit analysis to assess coastal management options

These guidelines provides advice to councils on the use of cost-benefit analysis for evaluating the viability of coastal management options and determining how costs could be allocated.

Preparing a coastal zone emergency action subplan

These guidelines contain additional information that councils may find useful when preparing a coastal zone emergency management subplan (CZEAS) under the CM Act.

Floodplain risk management

These guidelines assist councils to consider interactions between catchment flooding and oceanic inundation.

Landslide risk management

This additional information and guidance assists councils consider the risks of slope instability on coastal cliffs and bluffs.

Coastal management program checklist

The checklist is a simple tool that enables councils and consultants to assess a coastal management program against the statutory requirements of the Coastal Management Act 2016 and mandatory requirements of the Coastal management manual 2018 (Part A). This will assist in the preparation and review of coastal management programs.

Coastal management programs and integration with catchment management

This document provides advice to councils that are developing coastal management programs and ways in which broader catchment management objectives and actions, which reside outside the coastal zone, may be considered and integrated.

Marine Estate Management Strategy

The NSW Marine Estate Management Strategy 2018–2028 (PDF 12.3MB) is a framework for the NSW Government to coordinate the management of the marine estate between 2018 and 2028. The strategy identifies actions to address statewide priority threats to the marine estate.

Coastal management programs are strongly aligned with improving outcomes for the marine estate and support the objectives of the Marine Estate Management Act 2014.

Additional information that may assist councils preparing coastal management programs is available on the NSW Marine Estate website, including:

The Marine Estate Management Authority produces regular marine estate newsletters, and council staff are encouraged to register their details to stay informed.

Glossary of coastal management and planning terms

The glossary includes definitions of terms that are in common use when describing coastal environments, coastal processes and hazards, and coastal management.

Additional resources

How to find coast, estuary and flood data – a basic guide to open data for natural systems

Water information relevant to the NSW coast is stored in many different locations and by different government organisations. This report, How to find coast, estuary and flood data (PDF 61.7MB), represents key NSW information sources.

Funding and financing

Funding for preparation and implementation of a CMP is available through the NSW Coastal and Estuary Grants Program.

The Office of Local Government website provides information about rating and revenue guidelines, including guidelines for special rate variation applications.

Climate change and adaptation planning

The Adapt NSW site provides a variety of resources to help understand and adapt to the impacts of climate change in New South Wales.

The Sea Level Rise – Science and Synthesis for NSW (PDF 1.5MB) provides a synthesis of the science relating to sea level changes along the NSW coast.

The CoastAdapt site provides extensive resources to support coastal decision makers adapting to climate change and sea level rise in Australia.

The Climate Change Decision Support for Adaptation Kit (HCCREMS 2013) provides a variety of resources to assist local councils to determine the appropriate actions for their communities as they relate to planning for climate change adaptation.

Prioritising Coastal Adaptation and Development Options for Local Government (Sydney Coastal Councils Group 2014) provides advice on the adaptation options available to respond to the risks of coastal inundation and erosion due to climate change.

Engineers Australia guidelines

Engineers Australia has prepared several guidelines to assist in coastal management and planning.

Wetland management

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water wetlands site provides additional information and resources about wetlands in New South Wales.

The Saltwater Wetland Rehabilitation Manual (OEH) is a resource for the management of saltwater wetlands.

The Best practice guidelines for coastal saltmarsh (OEH) is a resource for the management of coastal saltmarsh.

WET eBook: Workbook for Managing Urban Wetlands in Australia (Sydney Olympic Park Authority)

Littoral rainforests

The OEH Littoral Rainforest site provides information about Littoral Rainforest in the NSW North Coast, Sydney Basin and South East Corner Bioregions.

The Commonwealth Government's Littoral Rainforest site provides a guide on how to identify, assess and manage the ecological community.

Coastal sediment compartments

The Geosciences Australia Coastal sediment compartments website provides information on the spatial extent of all sediment compartments on the Australian coast.

NSW water level and nearshore wave transformation tools

The Ocean and coastal waves website provides details of the NSW nearshore wave forecast tool with access to over 35 years of nearshore wave data and water level information along the NSW coastline.

NSW Estuary Tidal Inundation Exposure Assessment

The NSW Estuary Tidal Inundation Exposure Assessment (ZIP 9.2MB) provides information about the exposure of current development to tidal inundation associated with current High High Water Solstice Springs (HHWSS) water levels and a range of potential, future sea level rise scenarios.

Coastal Erosion in New South Wales: Statewide Exposure Assessment

The Coastal Erosion in New South Wales: Statewide Exposure Assessment (PDF 8.4MB) estimates the potential exposure of current development and infrastructure to present and future coastal erosion hazards.

Seawalls in estuaries

Environmentally friendly seawalls: a guide to improving the environmental value of seawalls and seawall lined foreshores in estuaries illustrates ways to improve the environmental value of seawalls and seawall-lined foreshores in estuaries. 

Guidelines for sand nourishment

This guideline provides a concise overview of the main considerations for beach nourishment projects in New South Wales.

Guidelines for seawall adaptation

This guideline provides information to enable decision makers using a risk-based approach to optimise upgrades for existing seawall structures and to design for staged construction of new seawalls that are resilient and adaptive to changing conditions.

Tsunamis Emergency Planning

The Tsunami Emergency Planning in Australia Handbook (PDF 1.2MB) is a guide to the key principles of tsunami preparedness. Its purpose is to enhance the capacity and knowledge of emergency managers with regards to emergency planning for tsunami in Australia. The handbook may assist emergency and coastal managers to develop emergency risk management strategies to deal with the threat of tsunami.

Mapping the coastal vulnerability area

Factsheet 5: Process for Mapping the Coastal Vulnerability Area (PDF 258KB) is intended to help local councils preparing planning proposals to map coastal vulnerability areas for the purposes of the Coastal Management Act 2016 and State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018 (the Coastal Management SEPP). Coastal vulnerability areas mapping identifies land subject to coastal hazards to which Clause 12 of the Coastal Management SEPP apply.

Estuary ecosystems

The Assessing the condition of estuaries and coastal lake ecosystems in NSW report describes the scientific method used to generate the State of the Catchments 2010 reports on the condition of estuaries in New South Wales and the pressures influencing their condition.

NSW Environment Protection Authority prepares State of the Environment reports.

Assessing estuary ecosystem health: Sampling, data analysis and reporting protocols provides a standard approach to estuary ecosystem health monitoring, analysis and reporting in New South Wales. 

Our Estuaries of NSW webpages provide data on a range of physical characteristics of each estuary in New South Wales, including their location, size, available tidal survey reports and hydrographic survey map sheets.

Intermittently closed and open lakes and lagoons

Form and function of NSW intermittently closed and open lakes and lagoons provides a technical background to the factors controlling entrance dynamics of intermittently closed and open lakes and lagoons, how entrance dynamics affect water quality and ecology, and the likely consequences of different management interventions.

Climate change in estuaries – state of the science and framework for assessment

The Climate change in estuaries: State of the science and guidelines for assessment consists of 8 module reports that provide a summary of the relevant climate, ocean and ecosystem science along with a frameworks for prioritising climate risks in estuaries. Additional information is available on the University of NSW's climate change and estuaries website.

Water quality related clauses in Local Environmental Plans

The Local Environmental Plan Assessment Tool for water-related clauses: Fact sheet provides a summary of what's included in the ‘LEP Assessment Tool’ and what it can be used for, and how you can access it. The tool was designed as a resource to help planning bodies and local councils review water-related clauses in local environmental plans (LEPs).

The Local environmental plan assessment tool for water-related clauses Guidance on the development and use of the tool, and key findings describes how the tool was developed, how to use it in the context of achieving the goals of our state water quality policy, and the key findings of a detailed analysis of the 573 individual water-related clauses that make up the tool.

Acid sulfate soils

Our coastal acid sulfate soils page provides information about the management of acid sulfate soils. This includes:


The Waterwatch Estuary Guide: a guide to community monitoring of water quality and estuary health and the accompanying Waterwatch Estuary field manual: a manual for on-site use in the monitoring of water quality and estuary health, provide information about designing and implementing community monitoring of water quality and estuary health.

Dune management

This Manual of Coastal Dune Management and Rehabilitation Techniques provides information about the rehabilitation and protection of coastal dunes.

Marine Estate Management

The Marine Estate threat and risk assessment identifies priority threats and associated risks to the marine estate at the statewide and regional scale.

Independent Public Inquiry into Coastal Lakes: Final Report

The Independent Public Inquiry into Coastal Lakes: Final Report Healthy Rivers Commission of NSW (PDF 551KB) outlines the findings of the Healthy Rivers Commission of New South Wales inquiry into coastal lakes.

Coastal design

The Coastal Design Guidelines for NSW illustrates how urban design principles can be used to create development that is sensitive to the unique natural, cultural and socio-economic characteristics of coastal places.

Stormwater management

The Stormwater page provides a variety of resources to assist local councils and their communities to manage stormwater and its impacts on coastal environments.

Floodplain Development Manual

The Floodplain Development Manual: the management of flood liable land provides guidance on floodplain risk management in New South Wales.

Rates and charges

Office of Local Government provides advice to councils on rates and special variations.