The South Coast NRM region extends over more than 8.6 million hectares across the southern coastline of Western Australia, together with 8000 hectares of islands and 1 million hectares of State waters out to sea. From Walpole in the west to Cape Arid in the east, the region includes the catchment areas for all the southerly flowing rivers and some areas north of Albany and Esperance which drain internally.
It is a natural geographic region which began to form over 100 million years ago when Antarctica broke away from Australia. It has mountain ranges with rocks more than 570 million years old, jarrah, marri, karri and mallee woodlands, salt lakes and an ancient sandplain to the south, formed 40 million years ago when inundated by ocean flooding.
Much of the inland areas have been cleared, with agricultural activities making up 70% of the region. They are an important part of the local economy, together with forestry, fisheries, mining, tourism and rural industries. Albany and Esperance are the two major urban centres servicing the region and both centres have busy port facilities.
The region has a rich Aboriginal cultural heritage with many recognised sites of importance to local Aboriginal people. The first known people living on the South Coast were the Noongars and their lands extended to the west of a line drawn from Jurien Bay on the west coast to Esperance.
The local economy is heavily reliant on favourable climatic conditions to maintain and increase economic sustainability. Climate change projections indicate a continued drying and increasing temperatures across the region, with increasing incidences of drought and intense rainfall events. The frequency and duration of hot days is forecast to increase, with a decrease in the frequency of frost days. A projected rise in sea levels, sea surface temperature and ocean acidification pose an environmental threat to marine species, corals and plankton and an economic threat to fisheries and tourism.