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How do we affect management of coastal ecosystems?

To preserve and protect coastal zone ecosystems we need to address the influence of human activity. An international consortium developed an integrated approach for ecosystem management.
How do we affect management of coastal ecosystems?
Scientists are beginning to realise the close interconnection between human activity and ecosystem management. To maintain their integrity it is necessary to evaluate human intervention on the coastal and estuarine environmental systems.

Seeking to address that, the EU-funded ‘Integrated ecological coastal zone management system’ (Ecomanage) project focused on the development of tools for managing coastal ecosystems.

Scientists considered that a coastal zone depended on local pressures, but also on pressures originating in the drainage basin, transported mostly by rivers and by groundwater. Additionally, they identified socioeconomic activities as the most influencing factors of those pressures and pinpointed that their impacts on the ecosystem have feedback on socioeconomics. Moreover, the consortium stressed out that the impact of human activities depended on physical characteristics of the ecosystem which together with the loads determined its ecological state.

Project partners developed tools based on mathematical models that examined the effect of load discharging into the sea or through rivers. These tools were then applied in three different coastal zones in South America that combined a wide environmental spectrum and numerous human activities. The relationship between origins and effects of environmental pressure was identified using a Driving forces, Pressures, States, Impacts and Responses (DPSIR) framework. Field data and modeling results were included into a Spatial Decision Support System (SDSS) for assessing the impact of management scenarios and evaluating their performance. Stakeholders were also motivated to participate in the decision making process so as to establish international collaborations.

Dissemination of the Ecomanage project activities and actions – also through the publication of a book – raised public awareness on the influence of human activities on coastal ecosystems. Implementation of Ecomanage tools is expected to provide guidelines for restoration and sustainable development of these ecosystems.

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