Understanding coastal social values through citizen science: The example of Coastsnap in Western Australia

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The coast is socially, economically, and environmentally vital to humanity, yet at risk due to population growth, development, and climate change. Coastal managers are required to make complex decisions regarding the trade-offs that may arise because of these threats, hence evidence-based policy is essential. Advances in biophysical data have improved understanding of coastal change, yet comparative social data is limited. Innovations are required to generate social values data that: (i) links with biophysical data; (ii) is consistent, representative, and long-term; and (iii) requires low resource investment. This paper reports on a pilot program that sought to address these needs by linking with an established citizen science program, CoastSnap, to collect information on community use and values in the Peron Naturaliste region, south-west Western Australia. The program successfully monitored community use and values uncovering the importance of nature-based activities and the mental/emotional health benefits of interacting with the coast. It highlights spatial differences in use and value that can support regional coastal planning. In the longer-term, the approach could enable decision-makers to monitor change in use and values resulting from, for example, infrastructure investments or physical coastal change. Limitations include little control over respondent sample and lack of knowledge regarding barriers to participation. Further research into the factors that motivate users and their preferences for interacting with the remote survey technologies, along with an expanded network of CoastSnap Social Survey sites, would facilitate regional, national, and global comparison of use and values. The approach provides a valuable addition to coastal managers’ data collection toolbox, generating social data that are temporal, integrates with biophysical data, and supports regional coastal planning, whilst increasing opportunities to interact with the public to enhance awareness, interest and support for coastal management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106563
JournalOcean and Coastal Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


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