The substantial population and urban sprawl of Adelaide (1.1 million people) sets the tone for this subregion.
The impacts of the population and social capacity that can contribute to an ecologically sustainable future are important factors here. Mostly sited on coastal and river plains, and urban in nature, the Metropolitan Adelaide subregion also extends to coastal areas and the Hills Face Zone.
The subregion encompasses Port Adelaide and high intensity industries such as defence construction, power generation, cement production and manufacturing.
This is along with activities related to any urban area, such as roads and railways, stormwater and waste disposal, recreation, retail, and education and health institutions. Areas of agriculture and horticulture serve local markets and those further afield.
The space remaining for natural resources is limited and the subregion contains a mere 3% of its pre-European vegetation. Notable extant vegetation groups are Cypress Pine sandy woodland, Grey Box grassy woodland, Chenopod shrubland and coastal vegetation such as mangroves.
Some of the remaining land-based vegetation survives along watercourses, most of which are heavily impacted by upstream rural practices, which contribute nutrients and eroded soil, and downstream urban practices, which contribute high volumes of water often contaminated by nutrients and heavy metals. Significant lengths of watercourses are held ‘in place’ by concrete and other artificial constraints.
Groundwater resources contribute to the horticultural and industrial practices of this low-rainfall area and water conserving activities, such as wastewater recycling and stormwater retention, are being taken up more and more.