Coastal Zone Management

The area where the ocean meets the land, which constitutes 10 percent of the ocean's area but contains 90 percent of all marine species is the coastal zone (CZ). This area provides breeding grounds and habitats for marine organisms as well as for waterfowl, shorebirds, and other wildlife.
This community and its members interact with each other and their nonliving environment in a natural and harmonious manner. This balance can and has been easily upset by extraneous intervention. An example of this can be seen with the arrival of slipper limpets in Falmouth bay where they compete with oysters for space and food and are now breeding in huge numbers. The warmer summer weather has helped the oysters to grow to good sizes, but unfortunately the limpets have also thrived. Clearly then, when two species are competing for the same resources, one must migrate to another area, if possible, shift its feeding habits or behaviour, suffer a sharp decline in population numbers, or become extinct. In the case of the Falmouth bay oysters, human intervention is helping, with a landing value put on the limpets fishermen are beginning to harvest then. Unfortunately, although edible, they don't seem to be gracing the tables of restaurants. Perhaps a matter for chefs, not environmentalists, to consider!

Clearly, this threat is not just confined to the endemic populations of the UK, but rather a global issue. Most pose little or no threat, however, a few have the potential to disrupt local ecosystems, fisheries, and human infrastructure. Non-native species have found new habitats and settled on every continent on the planet.
Industrialisation has also played a major role in affecting the CZ and is of particular measure in developing 3rd world countries. Renewable energy sources, such as wind, flowing water, solar energy and biomass, which create less environmental damage and pollution than fossil fuels, and offer an alternative to nonrenewable resources need to be seriously considered and these considerations acted upon before any likely damage becomes irreversible.
What can be done to help this fragile environment?
Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) aim to provide decision makers with scientifically researched and documented evidence to identify the likely consequences of undertaking new developments and changing natural systems.
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). A key component of an environmental impact assessment, an EIS provides a nontechnical summary of the study, including the main project characteristics, aspects of the environment likely to be affected, possible alternatives, and suggested measures and systems to monitor or reduce any harmful effects.

BMP's for CZM's!

The South West has seen has seen a dramatic increase as a tourist destination with an estimated one million visitors per year, this influx of tourists equates to an estimated £407 million per year coming into North Cornwall (NCDC BMU, 2007). Alongside this, there is also a continued migration of people from urban areas looking to relocate and settle in the region. This migration is fuelled by the attraction of the coastal areas, and in particular the regions beaches. As a result of this attraction, the beaches are being viewed as a key asset to the region and as such something to be maintained and managed correctly. The concept of the Beach Management Plan allows for ‘a strategic approach or coordinated plan to achieve this goal’ (BMP-NCDC. 2006).

This paper will identify the methodology of NCDC’s Beach Management Plans and compare them to those of the U.S county of Maui’s Beach management plans. A case study of each area will be given followed the conclusion.

The Concept and Methodology of Beach Management Plans

The coastal zone can be enormously problematic to protect, with aspects ranging from water quality to car parking and all that falls between. With the use of a Beach Management Plan (BMP) authorities aims to provide a framework to enable the efficient management of the differing aspects of concern. The plans themselves are ‘intended to be a guiding policy document, rather than be adopted in its entirety as formal law, although specific recommendations may be implemented through revisions of existing rules and regulations’ (Maui BMP, 2002). Successful implementation of the principles of BMP’s in decision making for coastal zones requires an understanding of the complexity and dynamics of the coastal zone. The European Commission defines Coastal Zone Management (CZM) as follows:-

‘CZM (which encompasses BMP’s) seeks, over the long-term, to balance environmental, economic, social, cultural and recreational objectives, all within the limits set by natural dynamics. It means integration of all relevant policy areas, sectors, and levels of administration. It means integration of the terrestrial and marine components of the target territory (EC CZ Policy, 1992)

Clearly a complex issue with many diverse facets and as such, a BMP aims to allow for a holistic and coherent method to manage sustainability. Some key issues concerning BMP’s are listed below; the list however is by no means exhaustive:
water quality
carbon/aquatic footprint
manning/human resources
disaster management
international linkages
regulatory compliance
achievement of good status
fiscal strengths
stakeholder dialogue
In the case of both North Cornwall and Maui it would appear that the objectives of the BMP’s concern themselves primarily with the influx of tourists, the associated conflicts, and the problems that subsequently arise at a more local level. The increased demands placed on the local infrastructure, including beach and water capacity, the need for quality provision of services to cater for the masses and environmental issues can all lead to degradation of the fragile coastal eco-system. These aspects must be managed correctly if the local communities concerned are to enjoy a long term sustainable future.

Beach Management Plan Case Study: Maui, Hawaii

In John C Dernbach’s book ‘Stumbling Toward Sustainability’ he suggests that ‘the U.S has not exercised the kind of international leadership necessary to support sustainable development around the world’. He goes on to state that ‘the U.S is not a party to treaties that are intended to foster sustainable development, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Kyoto Protocol, because U.S. trade policy puts short term economic goals ahead of sustainable development’ (Dernbach J. 2007). ‘As of December 2007 however, 740 U.S. cities in 50 states have began to support the protocol after Mayor Greg Nickels of Seattle started a nationwide drive to get cities to agree (, 2008). It is hoped that the program will indirectly apply pressure on the federal government by demonstrating that reductions can be achieved without being a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol. One of the areas to sign up to this local level program was the County of Maui in Hawaii.
Beach Management Plans for Maui, rather like that of North Cornwall, seek to promote beach preservation and sustainable development of the coastal zone. The Sea Grant report (2002, SGAEP & ADP) makes recommendations on how Maui can better address beach management issues. To this end, the County of Maui Planning Department, with the assistance of the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Extension Service, have identified thirteen areas for implementing more effective beach management practices and have formulated their unique BMP as a result.

With more than 10,000 species of plants and animals which can be found nowhere else on earth, and 84% of coral the reefs under U.S. jurisdiction, Hawaii attracts more than $10 billion in tourism revenue each year (HTA, 2006). Clearly, with this precious eco system in mind, the authorities primarily aim to identify various existing and potential coastal erosion problem areas. With the use of a study undertaken by Makai Ocean Engineering, Inc and Sea Engineering, Inc, Maui (SE, 1997) have been able to identify the need to deal effectively with natural coastal morphology, and can now look to implement preventative and remedial conservation methods which suit each location(see Appendix 1). Temporary measures are taken into account, examples of which include sand bags and sea bags, but by far the preferred method of conservation is the technique of ‘beach nourishment’. In essence large volumes of sand are placed on the eroded beach to create a new shoreline. A similar technique is employed for sand dune restoration and preservation, with the dunes being mapped, rebuilt, and planted with native species. This technique does however have its drawbacks, with exportation of sand from the island creating revenue for decades the authorities are now aiming to restrict this exportation and general usage of sand with government legislation, yet another point to consider when looking at BMP’s.
As well as physical restoration of the beaches and dunes the authorities are implementing a series of planning regulations pertaining to the coastal zone (CZ). In conjunction with this stricter planning, shoreline setback - a measure which restricts the building of structures close to the CZ, and proactive development - which restricts the type of structure and activity allowed in the CZ, are playing a key role in the legislative program. The key factor which underpins the implementation of these techniques is the research and monitoring of coastal morphological trends, this supplies the authorities, and relevant bodies, with important costal erosion hazard data. With this data, the scientist can use historical data to gain an idea of future trends in coastline morphology and therefore predict trends for 30, 60 and up to 90 years in the future, this does however make the assumption that future trends will echo historical patterns.

The main tools used to synthesise all of these actions is education and inter-agency coordination. Education ranges from BMP workshops for contractors and public awareness campaigns to the creation of Beach Management Districts which coordinate beach management at a neighbourhood level. The Maui authorities are targeting every aspect of beach management planning in the hope that their livelyhoods, culture and ecological prowess are preserved for future generations to enjoy.

Beach Management Plan Case Study: North Cornwall, UK

North Cornwall District Council (NCDC), unlike Maui, is not only a major land owner, but also a guardian of 11 of North Cornwalls beaches (BMP-NCDC. 2006). Some of these are leased from The National Trust and The Duchy Estate with the rest being comprised of private ownership. With regards to the implementation of BMP’s, only 2 of the 11 beaches have management plans, these being Polzeath and Summerleaze. Rather like Maui however, NCDC’s BMP’s aim to promote beach preservation and sustainable development of the CZ. James Ortiz of NCDC explains ‘In essence, the plans provide a more joined up, proactive approach to managing beaches, highlighting the profile of each beach, what facilities it has, what the issues are and how we can sustain the beach for the future’ (Ortiz. J. 2005). NCDC began the process of planning with a series of public consultations (see Appendix 2) stating that ‘Implementing any changes or new developments will require local community support from those who have a vested interest in the beach’ (BMP-NCDC. 2006). From these consultations the feedback was used to develop action plans. In conjunction with public consultation NCDC identified 4 areas from which to implement planning.

The natural environment is a major asset for the region and as such need to be protected with controls in place for development on the landscape. Their principle is to preserve the important natural features of the area which give it its distinct character. NCDC aim to achieve this through habitat and wildlife monitoring, water testing and environmentally friendly beach cleaning, this will be combined with education programs designed to propagate the concept of sustainability.

The economic and operational development of the region was then considered. NCDC believe that ‘commercial activities shouldn’t have a negative impact on the holistic enjoyment of other beach users and have a detrimental affect to the positive environmental features of the beach’ (BMP-NCDC. 2006). In essence a more sustainable approach to tourism is required with the use of capacity management and tighter planning controls coupled with improved services provision and licensing of commercial water activity groups. There are issues which will cap the overall capacity of the North Cornwall beaches beyond which no amount of measures can cater for, namely the physical size of the beaches themselves. Once they have reached saturation NCDC must seriously consider economic re-development away from the CZ if financial benefits are to continue to be enjoyed.
With surfing bringing £64 million to the economy of Cornwall per year (BMP-NCDC. 2006) recreational sports play an important role in beach management planning. With attraction to the NCDC beaches increasing year on year, and no provision for licensing at any of the surf schools, ‘ there is a high likelihood of an incident in the near future, due to the high level of saturation in the water during the peak season’(Lord Moynihan, 2003). In order to make provision for these increased numbers, NCDC have beach safety zoning for water users, combined with RNLI patrols during seasonally busy periods, and are developing a water activity licensing system to ensure only bone fide schools can operate in safety.

Again, as seen in Maui, NCDC aim to encourage awareness of biodiversity and sustainability issues by using education. With plans to expand the existing Marine Wildlife Centre, which already caters for locals, visitors and schools, NCDC also aim to develop the role of a Marine Wildlife Warden. NCDC also intend to raise awareness of relevant issues by way of guided walks, information packs and a Polzeath web page on their website.

NCDC, by targeting specific, relevant issues, has created the guide for maintaining biodiversity and sustainability for the regions beaches.

Clearly, careful planning and execution of beach planning is essential to the success of the area in question. Where different agencies, without guidelines, take different roles with the same common aim, coordination can become difficult and responsibilities confused. This can prevent associated parties from adopting the ‘joined up’ approach. As seen in the previous case studies, although the common aim for both Maui and NCDC is shared, the methods employed to achieve the ends can vary. Where Maui have taken a much more empirical standpoint when researching and implementing BMP’s by researching first and informing after, NCDC have taken a much more community based approach involving residents, local government and stakeholders from the outset. The BMP for Maui concerns itself, primarily, with coastal erosion problems and how to best provide for the future economy by remedial and preventative conservation methods. NCDC have created on overall plan for the implementation and coordination of beach management without having to repair and rebuild what already exists, and is therefore more concerned with the human element. Despite these differences the two share a common goal: the will to sustain and protect the natural resources, and, as a result, create an environment that can function in a natural and harmonious manner, whilst providing long term benefits.

Pollution over China blows out to sea, October 2004

5 November 2007



Coolflight said...

A usefull resource for the whats what of environmental issues and their meanings!

Coolflight said...