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The Contributions of Science to Integrated Coastal Management

Reports and Studies No. 61
Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP)
ISBN 92-5-103856-2


In a number of previous reports, GESAMP discussed the priorities for global action in managing coastal and marine environments and the contributions that science can make to these important tasks. The following extracts from the report of the Twentieth Session of GESAMP (GESAMP, 1990) are particularly relevant to the present document:

"The concept of sustainable development implies that the present use of the marine environment and its resources shall not prejudice the use and enjoyment of that environment and its resources by future generations. Past practices that have neglected this principle are the fundamental cause of many current environmental problems."

"Development inevitably implies environmental change. The challenge for marine and coastal zone management is to balance short-term development needs against long-term sustainability of ecosystems, habitats and resources such that the range of choices and opportunities available to future generations is not diminished by the consequences of present development choices."

"Comprehensive area-specific marine management and planning is essential for maintaining the long-term ecological integrity and productivity and economic benefit of coastal regions."

"The effectiveness of management actions to protect the ocean cannot be assessed without scientific analysis and knowledge. Accordingly, comprehensive protection strategies should incorporate scientific principles; however, it is recognized that decision-making frequently involves considerations other than scientific arguments. Close interaction among scientists and decision-makers is essential."

At the international level, much attention has been given to articulating the need for Integrated Coastal Management (ICM), the scope of ICM programmes and the issues they should address. Relevant documents from international fora include Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (United Nations, 1993), the Noordwijk Guidelines for Integrated Coastal Zone Management (World Bank, 1993), the report of the World Coast Conference (IPCC, 1994) and numerous technical reports released by international organizations, including UNEP (1995), FAO (Clark, 1992; Boelaert-Suominen and Cullinan, 1994), OECD (1993) and IUCN (Pernetta and Elder, 1993). Several GESAMP reports (e.g., GESAMP, 1980; GESAMP, 1991a; GESAMP, 1994) have addressed the interrelationships between the condition of coastal and marine environments and human activities.

Coastal and marine environments are particularly vulnerable to over-exploitation because they include large areas traditionally considered to be "commons". Before and since Garrett Hardin's essay The Tragedy of the Commons (Hardin, 1968), there has been ample evidence that the long-term effect of uncontrolled human activity on the commons is usually to degrade or destroy it. Furthermore, coasts often include areas where a diversity of incompatible activities compete for limited space and resources. The profits and benefits of some activities are confined to minorities, while costs are imposed on the community and the environment.

Although a clear understanding of the factors involved is often lacking, widespread concern over the condition of coastal environments has led to demands by the public for the right to participate in decisions affecting the coast and for better protection of coastal resources. As a result, there has been parallel development of ICM programmes in various parts of the world that actively involves the public in improving the management of coastal areas. In economic terms, these methods aim to ensure that the costs generated by one sector of society are not imposed on the community generally. The four case studies examined in this report attest to the centrality of this public process.

This report is offered as guidance to those responsible for the oversight and funding of ICM programmes, those engaged in the design and implementation of programmes and the natural and social scientists who participate in the ICM process. While the experience upon which this report is based represents a wide range of settings and approaches it underscores the many commonalities in the factors that influence how the sciences can contribute to ICM programmes and thus affect the success of these initiatives.


2.1 Objectives

Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) is a process that unites government and the community, science and management, sectoral and public interests in preparing and implementing an integrated plan for the protection and development of coastal ecosystems and resources. The overall goal of ICM is to improve the quality of life of human communities who depend on coastal resources while maintaining the biological diversity and productivity of coastal ecosystems.

Expressed in this way, the goal of ICM is clearly consistent with national and international commitments to sustainable development for all environments (terrestrial and marine), from the headwaters of catchments (watersheds) to the outer limits of exclusive economic zones (EEZ), whether or not they are subject to multiple jurisdiction.

Central to success in achieving this goal is the need for ICM to provide an equitable, transparent and dynamic governance process that is acceptable to the community.

2.2 ICM in the Context of Environmental Protection and Management

In a previous report on Global Strategies for Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP, 1991a), GESAMP presented a framework for environmental protection and management that provides for the various political, social and scientific inputs that are needed in developing programmes to protect the environment and to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources. The framework is applicable to all sectors of the environment, terrestrial, freshwater and marine. Environmental management is, therefore, an implicitly holistic process and the approach to managing coastal areas is fundamentally the same as that which should be used to manage a nation's environmental heritage in its entirety.

From its analyses of environmental problems confronting coastal areas and communities of the world, including those highlighted by the case studies reviewed in this report (see Annexes 1-4), we conclude that a majority of ICM programmes will need to deal with one or more of the following three conditions:

Table I
The Scope and Focus of ICM Programmes

Chapter 17.5 of Agenda 21 describes the scope and process of ICM programmes. The text calls for programmes that:
  • identify existing and projected uses of coastal areas with a focus upon their inter- actions and interdependencies;
  • concentrate on well-defined issues;
  • apply preventive and precautionary approaches in project planning and implementation, including prior assessment and systematic observation of the impacts of major projects;
  • promote the development and application of methods such as natural resource and environmental accounting that reflect changes in value resulting from uses of coastal and marine areas;
  • provide access for concerned individuals, groups and organizations to relevant information and opportunities for consultation and participation in planning and decision-making.

2.3 Principal Features of ICM

ICM is a continuous and dynamic process that addresses the use, sustainable development and protection of coastal areas. ICM requires the active and sustained involvement of the interested public and the many stakeholders with interests in how coastal resources are allocated and conflicts are mediated. The ICM process provides a means by which concerns at local, regional and national levels are discussed and future directions are negotiated. The concept of an integrated approach to the management of coastal areas is intentionally broad and has four elements:

Geographical: It takes account of interrelationships and interdependencies (viz., physical, chemical, biological, ecological) between the terrestrial, estuarine, littoral and offshore components of coastal regions;

Temporal: It supports the planning and implementation of management actions in the context of a long-term strategy;

Sectoral: It takes account of interrelationships among the various human uses of coastal areas and resources as well as associated socio-economic interests and values;

Political/Institutional: It provides for the widest possible consultation between government, social and economic sectors and the community in policy development, planning, conflict resolution and regulation pertaining to all matters affecting the use and protection of coastal areas, resources and amenities.

The emphasis on integrated management means that ICM programmes should:

Once formally adopted, ICM programmes have institutional identity typically granted by legislation or an executive mandate. Formalized ICM programmes therefore have continuity as independent organizations or as a programme administered through a network of organizations. In both cases' roles and responsibilities for planning and implementation are clearly delineated. The institutional structure typically contains distinct but clearly linked mechanisms for (i) achieving interagency coordination at the national or regional level (e.g., through an interministerial commission, authority or executive council) and (ii) providing for conflict reduction, planning and decision-making at the local level.

2.4 Boundaries and Scale

Ideally, the geographic boundaries for an ICM initiative should encompass a stretch of coast and adjacent ecosystems that are linked by common natural (e.g., climatic, physical, biological) features and/or by the occurrence of particular human activities. This would include those terrestrial systems that significantly affect the sea, or are affected by their proximity to the sea, and those marine systems affected by their proximity to the land; it implies boundaries that (a) include those areas and activities within watersheds that significantly affect the coast, and (b) may, in certain cases, extend seaward to the edge of the continental shelf or the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

In practice, the boundaries of first generation ICM programmes (see below) are often determined by the specific issues that the programme selects for its initial focus. For example, a programme that is initially most concerned with issues of coastal erosion and tourism development might reasonably adopt boundaries that are narrower than those of a programme concerned with water quality or fisheries.

Related to the problem of boundaries is the question of scale. ICM programmes usually cover geographic areas within a particular country rather than the whole country or only parts of whole ecosystems as in the case of a bay or watershed shared by two or more countries. The area addressed by an ICM programme may be large or small but the boundaries set should suffice for most local management decisions. Decisions and actions required in addressing the needs of the region may transcend the delineated boundaries. Furthermore, decisions made at a higher political or national level often have great significance for the area being managed.

The question of scale is particularly important for communities that rely on resource exploitation in a particular area. Once the requirements of the population exceed the ecosystem productivity, the manager must consider external subsidies or the need for alternative resources if the consumption rate or quality of life of the community is to be maintained. The alternative is to reduce demand for the resources. Reducing the population by emigration is seldom practical.


The papers referenced in Section 1 provide detailed descriptions and diagrams of the steps in the ICM process and others (e.g., Chua and Scura, 1992) have provided conceptual frameworks for linking management processes and options with specific issues. The simplified sequence of stages presented here is consistent with, and draws from, these publications and focuses on the contributions of science. The stages are summarized in Figure 1 and discussed in greater detail below. As the figure clearly illustrates, these five consecutive stages form an ongoing, iterative process that may go through a number of cycles before the programme is sufficiently refined to produce effective results. Each completion of the five stages may be termed a generation of a programme.

The types of scientific support required by ICM evolve with each stage in the process; a synopsis of the main scientific inputs at each stage follows. Additional information on selected natural and social science techniques and approaches is given in Section 4.

3.1 Stage 1: Issue Identification and Assessment

This is where the requirements of an ICM programme are initially defined and assessed. It is essentially a process of compiling, integrating and prioritizing information that defines the environmental, social and institutional context within which the ICM programme will proceed. The major topics to address are as follows:

Assessment of the condition of coastal systems:

Assessment of the policy and institutional context:

Assessment of the development context:

Clearly, Stage 1 is crucial because it provides the foundation for subsequent stages in the process that leads to a full-fledged ICM programme. Despite the range of information to be compiled and assessed, it should be possible to carry out Stage 1 within a period of 6-18 months.

figure 1
figure 1
Figure 1. The stages of the ICM cycle to which sciences contribute.

The dynamic nature of ICM requires feedbacks among the stages and may alter the sequence, or require repetition of some stages.

Scientific input to Stage 1

The process of sorting through and assessing large amounts of information of variable quality on a wide range of topics requires skill and judgment. The assistance of natural and social scientists, preferably those familiar with local and national circumstances, will be needed to find existing information, to assess its relevance and quality and to clearly define and prioritize the issues to be addressed. The linkages between issues must be defined and evaluated. Stage 1 should also identify any obvious gaps in scientific knowledge, their likely implications for the ICM process and the practical possibilities for filling them within a realistic time-frame.

A team of natural and social scientists should participate in the participatory process of preparing a document (e.g., a programme profile) that describes, in general terms, the various issues on which the programme will focus and the associated values, policies or constraints under which the programme will operate. Such scoping documents should identify the long and short-term implications of existing trends and suggest priorities for action. Such documents are an essential basis for consultations among managers, scientists and the public at large on the goals and priorities of the programme.

3.2 Stage 2: Programme Preparation

In contrast to the relatively rapid assessments of Stage 1, this stage involves a more protracted consultative and planning process that evaluates different options for action. This process may take several years. The main purpose is to develop a management plan that constitutes "a vision for the future" and that expresses, in realistic and tangible terms, the qualities of the environment to be achieved and maintained, the way in which resources should be allocated and any necessary changes in patterns of resource use and human behaviour. During this stage the specific objectives of the programme must be clearly defined. These should reflect the aspirations and values of those with an interest in the areas and resources to be managed. It is important to ensure that this process of planning and evaluation of options provides sufficient time for meaningful incorporation of stakeholders at the community level such that constituencies are built that will actively support the management objectives and strategies that are selected as the programme's focus.

Since the planning process is complex, continuing for several years and involving large numbers of people, the best approach may be to generate and test a variety of strategies and objectives, thereby building confidence in, and support for, a decreasing number of options. Thus, the planning process may involve several iterations comprising analysis, debate and pilot-scale implementation as the ICM team explores the feasibility of alternative management actions and associated governance requirements.

During the initial (viz., first generation) planning cycle, it may be advisable to focus on a few, relatively small-scale, areas where management policies and techniques can be implemented and to postpone attempts to manage the entire coastline until subsequent generations of the programme. This is often the most responsible approach to dealing with a crisis, such as coral reef blasting or mangrove destruction, where some early and visible action may be needed pending research to find the optimum solution.

Scientific input to Stage 2

Natural and social scientists should be well represented on the ICM team during the programme planning phase both to explain and expand on the findings of the Stage 1 assessments and to assist in defining and planning studies to fill important gaps in information. It is especially important that research be initiated early in the programme to address:

Table II
Scientific questions relevant to the destruction and restoration of coastal habitats

What is the scale of habitat destruction?
This is logically the first question to be addressed. Subsequent management and scientific action would be dictated by perception of the magnitude of the problem. Detection of the scale of habitat destruction is aided by modern technological tools, such as remote sensing, acoustic surveys of sediments and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Reference to historical records is often indispensable, as is anecdotal evidence.

What are the natural processes that maintain habitat integrity?
Intelligent resource use, including land use, and planning and zonation, is premised on a knowledge of natural processes that could lead to alterations in habitat characteristics such as topography and productivity over the long-term.

What are the dynamic linkages among habitats that need to be considered in maintaining sustainable use of their resources?
Habitats which are spatially separated are often dependent on each other for the exchange of material and energy. An example is the recruitment of important species of reef fish and probably coral larvae from other habitats or areas which serve as nursery areas.

Can the links between habitat degradation and human activities be quantified?
This involves studies on the characteristics of human activities that relate to alterations in the national resource base (growth, migration, decline), such as changes in patterns of resource use and in the application of technology to exploit resources.

How many species are actively dependent on the habitats concerned?
Are all species equally important for conservation purposes?
What are the spatial and temporal scales of natural habitat recovery?
When management appreciates the areal extent and length of time involved for degraded habitats to recover naturally, decisions must be made regarding the necessity of intervention. Insights into the natural processes underlying recovery (including spatial and temporal scales) may be derived from natural events, e.g., observations on recolonization following a large scale disturbance (e.g., a hurricane).

Which species play a key role in natural recovery process?
Particular species play more critical roles than others in terms of maintaining ecosystem functions (e.g., productivity, nutrient cycling, predation). Such knowledge will guide restoration strategies which, for logistic reasons, may have to focus on the minimum complement of species to achieve natural recovery.

Scientists should work with managers to prepare concise statements of objective for research and monitoring, clearly defining what is to be measured and why, and in identifying methodologies, facilities and personnel needed for the studies to be cost-effective and successful. For each priority issue to be addressed, scientists and managers should together formulate specific questions that are to be resolved through subsequent scientific investigations. Questions relevant to one particularly common issue, the destruction and restoration of coastal habitats, are given in Table II.

Specific Stage 2 tasks to be addressed by the ICM team and to which natural and social scientists should contribute, typically include:

3.3 Stage 3: Formal Adoption and Funding

Formal adoption of a programme will generally require a high-level administrative decision, for example by the head of a government agency, a minister or the cabinet, or perhaps by presidential endorsement. It will include consideration and agreement of a budget (i.e., levels and sources of funding) for each phase of the programme. A phased budget has certain advantages. For example, a preliminary budget could be adopted to allow the scientific research and baseline monitoring developed in Stage 2 to be initiated in advance of other programme elements.

It is to be expected that plans for ICM programmes will be subject to detailed scrutiny and questioning, and will often need revision, before they are formally approved. Consequently, this stage may be characterized by a dramatic change from the technical to political aspects of the ICM process. The interests of governmental agencies and commercial sectors affected by the programme may give rise to new and unexpected arguments that the ICM team must address. Similarly, formal approval often does not guarantee adequate funding. Securing the funds required for implementation of an ICM plan may require another round of planning to review possibilities for cost reduction and increased efficiency and perhaps a slower rate of implementation. The process is one of bargaining and accommodation.

Scientific input to Stage 3

Access to scientific advice is useful, and sometimes essential, when attempting to react quickly to the issues that emerge during the political bargaining process. Topics that are typically closely examined and challenged, and that involve natural and social sciences are:

3.4 Stage 4: Implementation

At this stage in the ICM process, the management plan becomes operational and the emphasis shifts to the introduction of new forms of resource development and use, new institutional arrangements and monitoring systems and the application of new controls, regulations and incentives.

Enforcement is an essential element of programme implementation and one which clearly demands a constant supply of reliable and readily interpretable monitoring data.

Successful implementation of an ICM programme invariably presents new, sometimes unforeseen, challenges and the ICM team must be able to respond to these while maintaining momentum within the core programme. Priority activities during this stage typically include:

Scientific input to Stage 4

From this stage, monitoring should be re-focused to measure changes in the areas and resources to be protected, the practices to be modified and changes in the forms of development that the programme seeks to provide. Such monitoring must be designed to generate data that can be compared with results from the baseline studies and to the specific development and conservation objectives contained in the programme plan. The design, implementation and management of these studies is an essential function for the ICM team and its supporting scientific bodies and advisors.

Key roles for natural and social scientists at this stage are to assist other ICM team members in translating information from monitoring programmes and assessing the efficacy of new measures. This is part of the learning process and is particularly important where management techniques and approaches are tested on a pilot scale. Scientists should test the hypotheses developed in Stages 1 to 3 and on which the programmes' actions are based. They should also give advice on whether elements of the programme should be revised or adapted to improve their effectiveness or efficiency and on developing new technologies that help attain programme objectives. This process of learning and adaption should continue throughout the implementation stage and is nourished by scientific knowledge and skills.

3.5 Stage 5: Evaluation

This stage, where the greatest learning should occur, has been omitted or performed in a superficial manner in a great majority of coastal management initiatives. Yet, if ICM programmes are to proceed through a series of generations to more sustainable forms of coastal development, this stage should be the critical juncture between one generation and another. The evaluation stage must address two broad questions:

What has the preceding generation of the programme accomplished and learned and how should this experience affect the design and focus of the next generation?

How has the context (priority issues, environment governance) changed since the programme was initiated?

This, in essence, sets the stage for repeating the assessments in Stage 1.

A meaningful evaluation can be conducted only if the programme objectives have been stated in unambiguous terms and if indicators for assessing progress were identified in Stages 2 and 3, and monitored during the preceding generation. Baseline data are essential. Many evaluations yield ambiguous results because these preconditions for assessing performance do not exist.

Scientific input to Stage 5

Natural and social scientists have important roles to play in the programme evaluation process. In particular, they should evaluate the relevance, reliability and cost-effectiveness of scientific information generated by research and monitoring and advise on the suitability of control data. Such analyses are necessary if funding agencies are to be persuaded that the often substantial investments in scientific work are justified. Scientists should also provide estimates of the extent to which observed changes in managed environments and practices are attributable to ICM measures as opposed to other factors.

3.6 Effectively Integrating Science and Management

ICM assumes continuously increasing knowledge of how ecosystems function and respond to anthropogenic forces. Equally important is an appreciation for the values and needs of the human societies in question and the capabilities and interests of the institutions that will play roles in the management process.

It must be recognised, however, that there are often important differences in the pressures and motivations acting upon the ICM manager, as opposed to the scientist collaborating in the programme. Managers must produce successes that bring credibility to the programme. They must also respond to crises and the demands of administering a complex set of activities often in the light of public and political demands for action. The scientist, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with the generation and appropriate use of "good science". To sustain a productive relationship between scientists and managers, both parties must work to achieve:

Each of the Case Studies provides examples of how this relationship has worked in practice.

3.7 Structures for a Relationship

A range of structures can be helpful in achieving these results. In some cases, as illustrated by the Ecuador case study (see Annex 3), informal inter-institutional working groups on specific issues of concern to the programme can be productive. Informal structures may avoid a situation whereby official delegates feel obliged to articulate and defend the policies and prerogatives of their respective institutions. Scientists with an interest in the issue participate as individuals, and the emphasis is upon problem solving, finding areas of common interest and collaborative action. Some programmes rely upon more structured advisory boards comprising a cross section of natural and social scientists, and institute representatives; typically these boards will focus on giving advice on the `technical' aspects of a programme. In other cases, technical boards or committees, in which scientists participate, are authorized to propose priorities and funding for research and monitoring to be sponsored by the ICM programme. The latter requires consideration of any existing and relevant scientific studies that are funded by outside sources.


Experience from environmental management generally has shown that there are various techniques and approaches in the fields of natural and social science that can help to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of ICM in achieving its overall goal. There are also a number of measures that managers can apply where the need to control specific practices has been demonstrated. Some of the most common techniques, approaches and measures are described below.

4.1 Research and Monitoring

Critical considerations in planning, budgeting and organizing coastal science programmes for management purposes are:

4.2 Integration of Research, Monitoring and Assessment

Without careful planning and proper coordination, research and monitoring can dissipate large amounts of money while failing to provide the information that is most needed for environmental management. Relevant and cost-effective information is most likely to result from studies that are initiated as part of a planned and well integrated programme. Nevertheless, information from scientific studies of an area, despite their different origins and purposes, are often useful to ICM initiatives.

An integrated programme for coastal science will encompass basic and applied research, monitoring (i.e., repetitive measurements using validated methods) and periodic assessments of environmental quality. Ideally, the programme will aim to:

This implicitly suggests that the programme should adopt a medium to long-term work plan comprising a set of studies with clearly-defined objectives. The plan should take account of the interrelationships and inter-dependencies between the studies and the sequence in which they should be undertaken. There should be no requirement for all studies within the programme to be funded by the same agency or management initiative such as ICM.

An integrated science programme should aim to ensure that activities in research and monitoring are, as far as possible, complementary. As a general rule, all monitoring should be preceded by research to develop suitable methodologies, to clearly establish the conditions under which the methodologies can be usefully applied and to verify their suitability for routine application. An important part of this process is to ensure that sufficient knowledge exists to allow the results from monitoring to be reliably interpreted. This frequently requires a good understanding of the cause and extent of variability (both temporal and spatial) in the parameters to be monitored which, in turn, will help to determine the optimum frequencies and locations of sampling.

4.3 Objectives

Possibly the most common and serious error in environmental science is that studies are initiated before the objectives have been fully and clearly documented. This can have serious implications, particularly for monitoring programmes. Objectives dictate what should be monitored, how, when and where, i.e., they determine the design of the programme; they are also the main criteria for use in interpreting the results. Thus, objectives should always be drafted with great care and clarity, ideally in the form of specific questions or hypotheses, and in the knowledge that suitable methodologies are available. As a minimum, a statement of objectives for a scientific investigation should specify what is to be done and why. Proper care in formulating objectives is the key to successful and cost-efficient science.

4.4 Scope

The scope of a coastal science programme will largely be determined by the extent of existing knowledge, the data needed for compliance with existing management requirements and the priorities for new information. Thus, programmes may range from those which address a few current and important issues to those which are broad and multi-disciplinary. As recommended in Stage 1 of the ICM process (Chapter 3.1), an assessment of existing knowledge is the best way to identify important gaps and deficiencies. Ideally, this assessment should be an integral part of the process of preparing a report on the present condition (i.e., quality status) of the environments concerned. GESAMP has recently published guidelines on how such reports may be drafted (GESAMP, 1994).

Although the data requirements of managers and existing national monitoring programmes deserve priority, a well-balanced programme will include studies designed to progressively improve scientific understanding of how coastal ecosystems function and their responses to human intervention.

4.5 Impact Evaluation

Under this generalized heading there are a number of roles for social and natural scientists within ICM programmes. They include assessments of the causes and implications of existing environmental impacts (termed environmental auditing) and also the prediction of impacts arising from proposed development and from actions to combat existing problems. Assessments of social and economic impacts of environmental changes and new developments are increasingly necessary. Advice developed from impact evaluations is of utmost importance to managers,it is often the deciding factor in justifying the choice of action and the financial resources to commit.

For some ICM programmes, especially those funded by the development banks, an early assessment of anticipated economic and social impacts of the programme may be required. This typically involves the identification of the beneficiaries of proposed ICM actions and the particular benefits they may reasonably expect to receive.

Two well-established techniques for use in impact evaluation are hazard profiling and risk analysis. A hazard is an intrinsic and potentially harmful property; it usually applies to properties (e.g., toxicity, bioaccumulation potential, etc.) of chemical pollutants but may also be applied to human activities. For example, the uncontrolled exploitation of renewable resources or irreversible alterations to ecologically important habitats are hazardous because they potentially may result in long-term reductions in productivity, biodiversity and the livelihood of local people. Although it is sometimes useful to compare the hazards of different materials or activities, hazard profiles are most valuable when used in risk analysis. In environmental science, a risk is the probability (in statistical terms) that a practice involving a given hazard will result in a particular change, effect or response. Risk analysis requires information on the scale (source strength, temporal and spatial aspects) of the practice and the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the environment in which it occurs. It also involves estimations of "downstream" impacts (side-effects); knowledge of environmental processes combined with modelling and/or pathway analysis are especially useful for this purpose.

Although impact evaluation is indispensable for resource management, it is not an exact science. Any analysis or prediction of environmental change will involve a degree of uncertainty. Important tasks for scientists are to minimize these uncertainties by obtaining the most accurate possible data on relevant variables and, above all, to ensure that managers are aware of the uncertainties inherent in the results or conclusions they provide.

4.6 Resource Surveys

A fundamental requirement of ICM programmes is an account of the different ecosystems, resources, geochemical features, habitats and biotic communities within the geographical boundaries of the programme. Summaries of data on social, industrial and other activities, and human uses of different environmental sectors and resources, will also be needed. Much of this information may already exist in the scientific literature and in national agencies dealing with agriculture, geology, forestry, wildlife and fisheries. It is nevertheless important that ICM scientists should, as an initial task, collate and classify this information in the form of maps, thematic directories and/or computerized databases such as geographical information systems that are a useful means of cataloguing and retrieving social, economic and environmental data.

How detailed and comprehensive a resource inventory should be depends on the particular focus and priorities of the ICM programme. Some first-generation programmes may focus on practices and problems that are largely confined to specific ecosystems and habitats such as estuaries, beaches or reef systems; more detailed information will therefore be required for these areas. However, as ICM programmes mature, it will be important to progressively extend resource databases and to fill critical gaps in the biology, ecology, geochemistry and other features of the larger, or more important, habitats.

The most useful resource inventories will be both qualitative and quantitative. This will allow estimation of the magnitude of changes and trends in environmental and social conditions. Clearly, for quantitative information to be reliable it must be reasonably up-to-date, and heavily exploited resources will need to be resurveyed periodically. Although many environmental features (e.g., fisheries, water quality, waste disposal) will require land or sea surveys, such features as the scale and distribution of major habitats, beach systems and shoreline developments can be more efficiently assessed by conducting aerial photographic surveys (normal colour and/or infra-red) or through analysis of recent satellite imagery.

4.7 Modelling

Numerical models can help to improve understanding of complex environmental processes (e.g., the movement of materials in water or the atmosphere) and to resolve questions and problems in resource management. Economic models can be valuable tools in environmental management, for example in comparing the economic consequences of different development, conservation or pollution control options. Typical applications of models in marine science include the simulation of seawater circulation under different seasonal, tidal and weather conditions and the prediction of larval dispersion, contaminant pathways and distributions. In the social sciences, economic models can be used to predict, for example, the effect of demographic changes on the demand for goods and services derived from natural resources.

In the context of ICM, the cost of sophisticated models and their reliance on high volumes of accurate data make their utility limited except in the case of advanced programmes. Modelling activities must be well supervised to ensure that they remain tightly focused and do not become the justification for extensive monitoring to generate the necessary calibration data. Models should be used only where there are well-formulated questions or hypotheses for the models to address.

The use of numerical models in studying the transport, dispersion and fate of contaminants in coastal regimes, and the factors to be considered for parameterization and formulation of these models, have been described in some detail in a previous report (GESAMP, 1991). A synopsis of key points in the introductory sections of this document is given below.

Models produce estimates whose accuracy depends on the quality of the environmental data used to calibrate and validate the model. Furthermore they depend upon how well the model simulates known processes such as turbulent dissipation of kinetic energy. No single model is appropriate for all purposes and a range of models is usually required. Successful models can frequently only be developed from a sound knowledge of the processes in the region of interest. This may require a well-conceived observational programme prior to the modelling work to determine scales of motions, sediment sizes and types, and other parameters. Any field programme should be designed to subsequently provide validation for the model.

Only in exceptional circumstances can complex models developed by one group be handed over to another. All models and their solutions have limitations that need to be understood, and this requires that a minimum of expertise be transferred with the models. Although it is difficult to produce generic models, coastal processes themselves may be considered as generic. The parameterization procedures that are relevant to one situation may be equally applicable to other coastal regions. It is usually the combination of processes and their relative importance that distinguishes one coastal location from another. However, parameter values themselves are often site-specific and, in general, the values of most parameters in a model have to be selected on the basis of data obtained at the site.

4.8 Economic Assessment and Valuation

An economic assessment of goods and services derived from natural systems has traditionally focused on those that have market prices, such as goods utilized as food and other marketable products (shellcraft, construction materials, etc). Such assessments attempt to incorporate direct use value as well as ecological function and option values. The values of natural systems such as the function of coral reefs in buffering wave energy that would otherwise lead to coastal erosion, the capability of mangroves to trap sediments that would otherwise remain suspended and contribute to low water quality, or the aesthetic value of natural systems that contribute to the growth of tourism, are examples of ecological functions that need evaluation. By internalizing the worth of these otherwise non-marketable functions, the economic value of environmentally derived goods and services are better estimated, and development options that protect or destroy the environment are appropriately evaluated. The economic assessment and valuation of natural systems rely heavily on what is known in terms of rates and processes relevant to their biological productivity and recovery under various stress scenarios. A major limitation of this method is that economic valuation has a relatively short time frame, typically 5 to 10 years as it considers prices, inflation, and discount rates. This time frame becomes irrelevant in terms of the growth and geomorphological evolution of resources such as coral reefs which span geologic time scales.

4.9 Legal and Institutional Analyses

Laws and institutions provide a framework by which a society organizes interactions among its people and governmental and non-governmental institutions. A thorough analysis of these is essential. As environmental laws evolve, they are not always consistent with each other. Major inconsistencies, which can affect the resolution of important coastal issues should be identified. It is the eventual task of the courts and legislators to rectify inconsistencies through statutory construction and eventual amendments of appropriate laws. A review of mandates, organizational structure and functions of institutions, often reveal gross overlaps in mandates or major gaps in responsibilities, all of which result in jurisdictional conflicts and inter-agency competition. The analyses should aim to guide coastal managers in identifying key institutions that together will provide an optimal mix of mandates and functions to carry out an effective ICM programme.

4.10 Social and Cultural Analyses

Public perceptions about the past, current and future status of the coastal environment and its resources, and how and why they should be managed are invaluable in developing strategies for a coastal management programme. While not expressed in formal instruments such as laws and institutions, perceptions, aspirations and world views directly influence how a society manages its natural resources. Studies might explain, for example, how certain communities in the Philippines can tolerate the use of blasting as a fishing technique while their laws provide for the death sentence of wilful violators. In such cases, successful enforcement of the law will hinge on the evolution of unequivocal social sanctions, a process which can be facilitated by a culturally sensitive public education programme.

4.11 Management Control Measures

Scientists can provide advice to environmental managers that will help them in selecting and implementing measures to control activities that harm coastal environments. Both natural and social scientists may be required to demonstrate the need for controls. Social scientists, in particular, may be helpful in advising on the optimum choice of control method.

There are advantages in control measures that rely on the voluntary cooperation of those whose activities may affect the condition of coastal resources. For example, voluntary agreements on limiting contaminant discharges to the sea, or limiting rights to exploit resources for particular purposes are often more effective than mandatory (i.e., legislative, regulatory) controls. Such agreements can be accompanied by funding or other incentives to put conservation measures in place. Nearly half of the funds in the Chesapeake Bay programme (see Annex 1), for example, are provided on a cost-sharing basis to farmers to reduce nutrient loadings.

It is often necessary to supplement voluntary arrangements with control measures enforceable under law through permits or other means. For example, areas on land or at sea may be designated, or zoned, for almost any purpose that benefits society, the environment or both. In the marine environment, typical applications of zoning include the designation of areas exclusively for aquaculture or watersports, or the designation of specially-protected areas, usually with restricted access, that provide a refuge for important species or that support critical stages in their life-cycles e.g., spawning grounds.

It should be noted that in some societies over-reliance on regulatory authorities can actually reduce public support, because such measures are assumed to be ineffective and subject to corruption. In other places, the public may demand new laws or enforceable regulations; scientists play an important role in setting standards and limits under such approaches. A successful ICM programme, therefore, works constantly to maintain and build its constituencies and to assure selection of the best possible suite of control measures for the implementation of its policies and plans. This is the essence of adaptive management.

4.12 Public Education

Much can be done to advance the overall goal of ICM through public education initiatives organized jointly by managers and scientists. Thus, part of the ICM strategy should be a carefully structured educational campaign, involving, for example, a series of displays, newsletters, lectures and debates, to convey the principles of resource management and related scientific techniques to the widest possible audience. A key topic to address is the concept of sustainable use of resources which needs to be explained in both environmental and socio-economic terms. Scientists can make valuable contributions by preparing, in simple terms, information on the characteristics of local ecosystems, indices of productivity and the factors that cause productivity to vary, the inter-dependencies between different ecosystem components, the sensitivities of certain habitats and species and some of the more common hazards to which they are exposed.

Another key focus for public education is the elucidation of forces driving the issues with which the ICM programme is dealing. The processes at work, both social and environmental, should be explained as well as the implications of current trends and conditions.

Scientists should also outline studies of an area and consider possibilities for involving local people in systematic data gathering exercises that, apart from initial instruction, require little scientific knowledge or equipment (e.g., oil spill incidents, occurrence of discarded nets, beach litter, stranded marine mammals, red tide outbreaks, etc.). The profiles of each region developed in the early years of the Ecuador ICM programme (see Annex 3), are an example of issue identification through public involvement.


5.1 Introduction

In preparing this report, GESAMP had the benefit of four detailed case studies. The cases were selected from mature programmes that had either completed or are engaged in the implementation stage. Two cases are from developed nations and two are from developing nations. They represent a range of ecological, geographical, social and cultural environments. These included the Chesapeake Bay Program in the United States, the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area Programme in Australia, the Coastal Resources Management Programme in Ecuador, and the Lingayen Gulf and Bolinao Projects in the Philippines. While each case study provides unique insights into the development and operation of ICM, there are also common elements in these real-world experiences. Many of these common elements are related to the role of science in ICM. Synopses of the four case studies are presented in Annexes 1-4.

5.1.1 The Settings

Table III summarizes key social, economic and physical indicators of the national and regional settings for the four case studies. In contrast to the two developed countries, in the Philippines and Ecuador high proportions of the population live in poverty and are directly dependent upon the local resource base for their food and their livelihood. Efforts to conserve or restore ecosystem quality in these areas must respond to the needs of such people. In the case of the Australian and United States examples, the interests which must be dealt with include well-organized agricultural and fisheries industries, as well as organized environmental protection groups. In all four cases, public involvement is critical to success. Also critically important from a resource management perspective are differences in the complexity and layers of existing governance structures, as well as existing governance processes, at both the local and national levels.

Table III
Socio-economic Settings of the four Case Studies


1 Gross Domestic Product
(USD per capita)

2 Coastline (km)

3 Coastal population

4 Fishers, incl. part-time

5 Annual fisheries
production (t)





















Note: Items 2 through 5 apply to the areas considered by the case studies; in the USA, the Chesapeake watershed; in Australia the reef and its associated watersheds; in Ecuador the four mainland coastal provinces; and in the Philippines the Lingayen Gulf and its associated coastal municipalities. The length of the coastline of Chesapeake Bay includes all indentations and island shorelines; the estimates of shoreline length for the other sites are measured as straight line distances.

In the Philippines and Ecuador, the capacity of institutions at the community and national levels to effectively manage coastal resources was very limited when the programmes were initiated in the mid eighties. Existing regulations were frequently ignored and constituencies representing some sectoral and public interests in ICM did not yet exist. In Australia and the United States, the problem was a large number of overlapping and uncoordinated government agencies which prevented unified action toward commonly held goals. In such situations, a prerequisite for effective resource management is to create within the public service efficient structures and procedures for the administration of environmental regulations and programmes. An efficient governance infrastructure and well established constituencies are preconditions for an ICM programme and also for the enforcement of any zoning scheme, environmental regulations or user agreements.

5.1.2 Programme Maturity

Section 3 describes the process by which ICM programmes evolve. The successful completion of a five-stage cycle, beginning with issue identification and ending with an evaluation of programme performance, can be termed a generation of a programme. More mature programmes represented by those of the Great Barrier Reef and Chesapeake Bay, have progressed into second or third generations while the Bolinao-Lingayen Gulf and Ecuador programmes have yet to complete the implementation stage of an initial generation. Experience has shown that programmes are well served when learning cycles, in which small-scale pilot projects are used to test the feasibility of implementation, are completed as frequently as possible. The Ecuador programme refers to these as "practical exercises in implementation."

5.2 Analysis of the Case Studies

Analysis of the four case studies shows remarkable agreement among them all regarding the roles, limitations and responsibilities of science in ICM. These findings are organized below into those that are applicable to ICM generally, and those of greatest value to each of the five stages of the ICM process defined in Chapter 3.

5.2.1 ICM Process

Throughout all stages of the ICM process, GESAMP finds that:

5.2.2 Preparatory Stages

With respect to the Issue Identification and Assessment and Programme Preparation Stages of ICM, GESAMP recommends consideration of the following additional findings from the Case Studies:

5.2.3 Programme Adoption

As ICM programmes move toward the Formal Adoption Stage, GESAMP believes the following additional lessons from the Case Studies should direct the role of science:

5.2.4 Implementation

As ICM programmes enter the Implementation Stage, GESAMP recommends that the following additional lessons from the case studies be taken into account:

5.2.5 Evaluation

The Evaluation Stage of ICM is critical, although this stage is often neglected. GESAMP believes that in this phase the application of science is essential if the efficacy of the management, research and monitoring programmes is to be evaluated objectively and necessary actions taken to set subsequent generations of the ICM programme on course. The lessons demonstrated by the two mature case studies for this stage reinforce those described above for Stage 1 (Issue Identification and Assessment) and Stage 2 (Programme Preparation) in Section 3.


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