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30 Years of Coastal Resilience Design: Angus Jackson's Legacy on the Gold Coast

Updated: Mar 27

Discovering an article from the 1989 edition of Engineers Australia detailing Angus Jackson's innovative approach to combating beach erosion on the Gold Coast was like uncovering a time capsule filled with visionary predictions for coastal management.

It's fascinating to reflect on the relevance of Jackson's work today, as we witness the tangible outcomes of his strategies. His predictions, once hopes for a future at risk, have materialised into significant successes.

The iconic nourishment techniques, dune management, multi-purpose artificial reefs, sand bypassing and comprehensive coastal preservation efforts he envisioned have not only safeguarded the Gold Coast's beaches but also served as a model for global coastal resilience.

Engineers Australia Magazine 1989
Engineers Australia Magazine 1989

As we look back, it's clear that Jackson's foresight and dedication have left an indelible mark on the field of coastal engineering, offering lessons on the power of innovation and the critical importance of harmonizing human activity with nature's dynamics.

This article serves as a testament to the enduring impact of visionary thinking in addressing environmental challenges, proving that proactive and innovative solutions can create a sustainable future for communities worldwide.

Gold Coast coastal management
Northern Gold Coast

How it Started

In the late 70's and early 80's, the Gold Coast's sparkling beaches faced a dire threat from erosion, endangering both its environmental treasure and booming tourism sector.

Angus Jackson, a coastal engineer with foresight and innovation, embarked on a journey that would not only redefine coastal management on the Gold Coast but also set a global benchmark for shoreline preservation. His strategic interventions, well-documented over the decades, reveal a legacy of success, innovation, and environmental stewardship that continues to inspire.

Gold Coast beaches in the late 70's
Gold Coast beaches in the late 70's []

Pioneering Nearshore Nourishment

Facing the erosion crisis, Jackson, then supervising engineer for special projects at the Gold Coast City Council, pioneered a nearshore nourishment (sand placement) program in 1985. His approach was revolutionary: "to work with nature."

This initiative aimed to replenish the beaches naturally, complementing an existing beach nourishment program that began in 1974 after a critical study by Holland’s Delft Hydraulics Laboratory. Jackson's confidence in this approach was palpable. He famously stated, “Either Christmas '89 is a good beach, or I'm looking for a new job,” underscoring his commitment and belief in the project's success.

Nearshore Nourishment Success

The foresight and effectiveness of Jackson's strategies were not merely speculative. Over the years, the success of these initiatives has been extensively documented, showcasing not just the revitalization of the Gold Coast's beaches but also marking significant progress in coastal management practices globally.

Jackson's work extended beyond sand replenishment; he was instrumental in developing vegetated dunes, sand management, and monitoring procedures that stand as a testament to sustainable coastal resilience.

Coastal Innovations that Resonated Globally

Angus' influence expanded internationally through his company International Coastal Management, where he championed the multi-purpose artificial reef approach at Narrowneck. This innovative solution for coastal stabilization, over two decades later, is celebrated for its multifaceted success in environmental, recreational, and protective dimensions. "The creation of the large nearshore shoals has modified the wave climate and given immediate protection to the foreshore," Jackson observed, highlighting the project's immediate benefits.

A recent study on the sediment transport around the Narrowneck Reef highlights that it is having a positive effect on stabilising the beach around the reef, improving marine habitat and providing surf amenity in the reef vicinity.

Research and Education in Coastal Resilience

Jackson's work through council and International Coastal Management laid the groundwork for ongoing research and education in coastal resilience. He played a pivotal role in establishing the Griffith University Centre for Coastal Management department (now called Coastal Marine and Research Centre), aiming to preserve the accumulated knowledge and continue the advancement of coastal adaptation techniques and lessons.

This initiative has made the Gold Coast a hub for cutting-edge research and a beacon for communities worldwide striving to enhance their coastal adaptability.

A Future Built on Foundations of the Past

Today, the Gold Coast shines as a prime example of how vision, innovation, and commitment can transform environmental challenges into success stories. Angus Jackson's legacy is not just in the sands of the Gold Coast but in the global community of coastal management, where his strategies and teachings continue to inspire action and innovation.

In a world facing the urgent challenges of climate change and rising sea levels, the work initiated by Jackson and carried forward by entities like International Coastal Management and Griffith University have proven that coastal management strategies can have a multitude of benefits while providing ongoing resilience.

It underscores the importance of embracing innovative solutions and fostering knowledge-sharing communities to protect our planet's precious coastal environments for future generations. The Gold Coast, once damaged by eroding coastlines, now exemplifies the power of sustainable intervention and working with nature.

Marine habitat crated on Narrowneck Multi Purpose Artificial Reef
Marine habitat crated on Narrowneck Multi Purpose Artificial Reef

The Future of Coastal Resilience

With our recent win in the RE:BEACH design competition in Oceanside, California up against world leading design consultants and teams, International Coastal Management have been awarded the chance to design and implement a coastal resilience approach based on the success of the Gold Coast.

The design approach includes a multi purpose artificial reef, nearshore nourishment, sand/dune management plan and sand bypassing. This could be the new blueprint for coastal adaption methods in southern California.

Angus with new company director Aaron after RE:BEACH win on Gold Coast beach
Angus Jackson with new company director Aaron Salyer after RE:BEACH win on Gold Coast beach

The full Engineers Australia 1989 Article

You can read the Engineers Australia article below.

Looking for Coastal Resilience and Adaptation Specialists?

With decades at the leading edge of coastal resilience design and management approaches, International Coastal Management (ICM), have a dedicated and passionate team working in the coastal resilience space.

From coastal management strategies to multi purpose artificial reefs, vegetated dune systems or sand nourishment programs, our team can assist with all levels from concept designs to budgeting, implementation and monitoring.

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