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Unit 1 Section C - Managing coastal environments in a sustainable way

Page history last edited by K J Hutchinson 13 years, 5 months ago

Lesson 1 - Integrated Management at the coast


Learning objectives:

- to be able to define integrated coastal zone management (ICZM)

- to be able to give examples of the pressures on the Mediterranean cosstal area

- to know how the Mediterranean coastal area is being managed (the Blue Plan)

- to practice drawing and interpreting line graphs


You need to learn two key definitons for this part of the course:


Integrated management: management of the whole of an area or a system rather than just its individual parts

Sustainable management: management that meets the needs of the present generation while preserving an area for future generations


The idea of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) was first introduced by the European Union in 1996, following dicussions at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) recognises that the coastal environment is more than just the thin strip where the land meets the sea. ICZM is about manging the whole of the coastal area over a long period of time. The key principles behind ICZM are:


- it is a long-term approach involving the sustainable and equitable use of resources (natural, cultural and economic)

- it brings together all the various organisations who have responsiblity for managing the coastal area

- it recognises not only the need to protect the coast but also the importance of recreation and business to coastal settlements


Mediterranean Sea - managing a coast using ICZM


Our case study for this part of the course is the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean Sea covers about 2.5 million square kilometres. It is connected to the Altantic Ocean by the Strait of Gibraltar on the west and to the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea by the Dardanelles and the Bosporus on the east. The man-made Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. The Mediterranean coastal area includes 21 countries from 3 continents (see below) and has a population of over 300 million people.


Europe: Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece and Turkey*

Asia: Turkey*, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt*

Africa: Egypt*, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco


*Egypt and Turkey are transcontinental countries


Pressures on the Mediterranean coastal area


The main pressures on the Mediterranean coastal area are:


- sea pollution from industrial waste and untreated sewage and air pollution from industry and transport

population increases leading to bigger, sprawling cities, and illegal development

- damage to environments by the development of tourism - hotels and holiday resorts

- the threat of desertification as increasing amounts of underground water are used

- water shortages because of increases in demand and climate change

- overfishing - the European Environment Agency says that over 65% of all fish stocks in the region are outside safe biological limits


You can read more about these pressures on the Greenpeace website.


This first video tells the story of the Prestige oil tanker disaster in November 2002. The tanker sank off the coast of Spain. The oil was washed ashore, causing extensive damage to the environment, tourist industry and fishing industry. A major oil spill could occur in the Mediterranean at any time. The EU has two regulations in place to prevent old oil tankers from being used in the Mediterranean. Click on the image of the sinking tanker to watch the video and find out about what the EU is doing to prevent further disasters like this.


The second video is about Greenpeace's work towards stopping the release of toxic chemicals from industry into the environment. Greenpeace claim that companies have a lot of money and political influence and often lie about the pollution that they cause. The companies insist that they are working within environmental guidelines. Again, click on the image to be taken to the BBC website to watch the video.





The Blue Plan (Plan Bleu) for managing the Mediterranean in a sustainable manner


The Blue Plan - a sustainable future for the Mediterranean - was produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2006. The report recognised the pressures faced by the Mediterranean coastal area and highlighted levels of pollution and population growth as being key concerns. It made recommendations about how the area should be managed so that it could be cleaned up by 2020. It is an example of ICZM being used to manage an area. The Plan considered the economy, envieonment and people of thr whole area rather than just concentrating on the shoreline.




The key recommendations were:


- to make 10% of all the coastal areas into nature reserves to protect them

- to reduce building development along the coast and have green areas between areas of development to prevent sprawl

- develop tourism inland to relieve pressure on the coast and spread the benefits of tourism to a wider area

- issue guidelines for the development of new tourist facilities to ensure they fit in with the environment

- treat all waste water before it is pumped into the sea

- encourage people to use water sparingly and introduce water conservation measures

- have stricter rules to prevent pollution

- develop renewable energy sources


This fits with the principles of ICZM as it considers a wide range of activities. Greenpeace have supported the plan, saying that 'We cannot preserve the overall health of the Mediterranean Sea by simply protecting one habitat within it, prohibiting one threat or minimising one activity. The Mediterranean Sea functions as a whole ecosystem so the measures to protect it must reflect and support that.'.


Greenpeace have gone a step further and have proposed a  network of marine reserves which would protect 40% of the Mediterranean Sea. You can see this network of reserves on the map below.


View Save the Mediterranean in a larger map 


Useful weblinks

The UK's policy statement about ICZM in England (a very lengthy document - a link for teachers rather than students to follow!) 

Greenpeace article about the pressures on the Mediterranean

Greenpeace online petition to protect the Mediterranean Sea by 40% coverage of marine reserves


Lesson 2 - Planning for rising sea levels


Learning objectives:

- to know how climate change will affect coastal areas

- to recognise that we need to plan for rising sea levels

- to develop a case study of the Response Project around Scarborough in North Yorkshire


Sea level rise has occured at an average rate of 1.8 mm per year for the last century, and more recently at 3 mm per year (1993-2003). Global climate change will cause sea levels to rise, partly due to thermal expansion and partly through the addition of water to the oceans through the melting of ice sheets. Values for predicted sea level rise over the course of the next century typically range from 90 to 880 mm, with a central value of 480 mm. British insurance companies have estimated that a 50 cm rise could cause up to £30 billion of damage.


The map below shows the the trend in sea level rise over the 15 year period from 1993-2008. It has been drawn using data from NASA.


This Google-based map allows you to see the effects of a sea level rise of between 1 metre and 14 metres around the world. There are serious implications for the fenland area around Cambridge! Use the map to explore the effects that sea level rise beweetn 1 metre and 14 metres would have on (a) East Anglia, UK, (b) Ancona, Italy, and (c) Tuvalu, Pacific Ocean.



Given the scientific data which suggests a sea level rise of up to 1 metre over the next century, we clearly need to be planning to adapt our use of the coastline and coastal areas!


Effects of sea level rise


- Loss of land. The IPCC noted that coastal wetland ecosystems, such as salt marshes and mangroves are particularly vulnerable to rising sea level because they are generally within a few feet of sea level. Wetlands provide habitat for many species, play a key role in nutrient uptake, serve as the basis for many communities’ economic livelihoods, provide recreational opportunities, and protect local areas from flooding. As the sea rises, the outer boundary of these wetlands will erode, and new wetlands will form inland as previously dry areas are flooded by the higher water levels. The amount of newly created wetlands, however, could be much smaller than the lost area of wetlands - especially in developed areas protected with structures that keep new wetlands from forming inland. The IPCC suggests that by 2080, sea level rise could convert as much as 33% of the world’s coastal wetlands to open water.

- Storms and flooding. Sea level rise also increases the vulnerability of coastal areas to flooding during storms for several reasons. First, a given storm surge from a hurricane builds on top of a higher base of water. Erosion of the coast also increases vulnerability to storms, by removing the beaches and dunes that would otherwise protect coastal property from storm waves. Sea level rise also increases coastal flooding from rainstorms, because low areas drain more slowly as sea level rises. Flooding from rainstorms may become worse if higher temperatures lead to increasing rainfall intensity during severe storms.

- Coastal water supplies. Rising sea levels increase the salinity of surface water and ground water. If sea level rise pushes salty water upstream, then exisiting water supplies might draw on salty water during dry periods. Salinity increases might also harm plants and animals.


The Response Project


The Response Project is a new approach to planning for rising sea levels., It is sponsored by the EU and it provides a framework for understanding and preparing for the impacts of climate change around the European coastline.



The Response project collects information about coastal areas and puts it on a series of 9 maps (see diagram below). It is then used to identify areas at risk and make decisions about future coastal planning and management. It is an example of ICZM as it aims to predict the pattern of risks and hazards throughout an area rather than just examining one point location. By incorporating natural hazards such as erosion, landsliding and flooding into coastal risk mapping and long-term planning, local and regional authorities can divert new development away from areas of risk and try to reduce risks in areas of existing development.



The maps fall into 3 categories:


Background information about the area

- coastal landforms and processes - map 1

- existing coastal defences - map 2

- current and historic natural hazards - map 3

- natural and man-made coastal assets - map 4

Assessing the risks of rising sea levels

- coastal behaviour systems - map 5 - identifying hard and soft coastlines

- identifying how rates of erosion, flooding and landslides will increase - map 6

Offering guidance to planners and decision makers

- suggesting the likely impact of sea levels rising - map 7

- giving recommendations about how the areas at risk could be protected


One of the pilot study areas for the Response Project was the area around Scarborough in North Yorkshire. The maps below show the man-made coastal assets along this stretch of the coast (the first map) and the coastal hazard scores calcualted by the Response Project. The local council reported that the maps were very easy to interpret, allowing people without a technical background to understand the information and take part in debate about the future of the area.




You can read more about the project on the Reponse website - link below. 


Useful weblinks

Response Project website

Response Project summary leaflet

Maps and recommendations for each of the 5 Reponse pilot study areas

Response maps for the North Yorkshire pilot project


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