People’s perceptions and appreciation of these coastal areas play an important role in their preservation and protection, which is a focus of Professor Clarke’s studies. She has surveyed how residents connect with and rate the attributes of Adelaide’s northern metropolitan coastal wetlands, from Torrens Island to Thompson Beach – which showed that recipients identify the region as important for their personal wellbeing, adding weight to the call for closer controls on further development and enhanced protection of these important community spaces.
“Social and cultural values are very difficult to put a dollar value on, but they are important attributes to measure, along with ecological and scientific components, for shaping future policies on coastal restoration and protection,” says Professor Clarke.
Now, Professor Clarke will work with a team led by Flinders University colleague Professor Sabine Dittmann, a marine biologist, to conduct a key South Australian coastal restoration project that will serve as a demonstration site to apply Environmental Economic Accounting as part of the Australian Government’s Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) Blue Carbon Conservation, Restoration and Accounting Program.
Within this program, in 2022, Professors Clarke and Dittmann joined other partners to obtain a $2.9 million, four-year Blue Carbon Ecosystem Restoration Grant to restore tidal saltmarsh ecosystems including sections of the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary, and to enhance understanding by the community of the importance of coastal wetlands for their ecosystem services.
In May 2023, Professors Clarke and Dittmann led another multidisciplinary partnership that received an additional $1 million through this DCCEEW program to measure the benefits of blue carbon ecosystems to climate, biodiversity and people, along with measuring the value of restoring blue carbon sites.