Coasts Revision - Managing Fragile Coastal Environments

Revision notes for fragile coastal environments eg Great Barrier Reef

  • Created by: caz
  • Created on: 27-12-10 17:32


- Threats faced by some coastal areas

- Managing fragile environments in a sustainable way

- How to use the natural environment to protect against flooding

- Integrated Coastal Zone Management

- Planning for sea level rise 

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Key Words

Ecosystems - communities of plants and animals within a particular physical environment

Reefs - ridges of rock near the surface of the sea

Sedimentation - deposition of fine sand

Integrated management - management of the whole of an area/system, rather than parts of it

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

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Coral Reefs

Coral Reefs are important because they act as a coastal defence against both flooding and erosion, they contain rare species of plants and animals, they provide nutrients for fish schools, help local fishing industries and are major tourist attractions. 

Coral Reefs are under threat because of coastal developments, pollution and climate change. 

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Coral Reefs

Plants and animals found in coral reefs include -

- Fish

- Molluscs

- Marine algae

- Echinoderm eg starfish, sea urchins

- Sea snakes

- Turtles

- Whales

- Dolphins

- Prawns

- Crabs

- Sponges

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Uses of the Great Barrier Reef

- Conservation

- Bird watching

- Fishing

- Boating

- Yachting

- Diving

- Snorkelling

- Water sports

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St Lucia

Soufriere Marine Management Area (SMMA) in St Lucia is used to protect the coastal area. 

They have split the coast into zones for specific activities including marine reserves, fishing areas, recreational areas and multi-purpose zones. There will also be strict wardens patrolling the areas and regular monitoring of water quality and coral conditions

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Integrated Coastal Zone Management

To manage the various pressures on the coastal zone, the concept of ‘integrated coastal zone management (ICZM)’ has been developed. ICZM has the following characteristics:
- It is a long-term approach involving the sustainable and equitable use of resources (natural, cultural, economic) 
- It seeks to bring together all the various organisations who have responsibility for managing the coastal zone
- It recognises not only the need to protect the coast but also the importance of recreation and commerce to coastal settlements
- It provides a framework for managing and reconciling the various groups that have an interest in how the coastal zone is managed

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Managed Retreat


- Sustainable

- Builds up natural defences

- Cheap

- Enhances ecosystems


- Good farmland may be lost

- Buildings may be lost

- Decreases value of properties

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Planning for Sea Level Rise

Ancona, Italy - The Response Project

There are three main strategies to the response project

1) Collecting background information

2) Assessing the risks of rising sea levels

3) Offering guidance to planners and decision makers

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