Theme 6: Development of European Action Plans

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This document is meant as documentation for ENCORA Theme 6’s European action plan. It includes the overall theme 6 rational, objectives and the importance of coastal wiki for Theme 6 dissemination. The document also includes an identification of the identified knowledge gaps as discussed during the Paris conference.

Theme 6 Rationale

Increased human exploitation and infrastructure developments in the coastal and estuarine zones influence the geo-and eco-morphology resulting in enlarged stress on coastal habitats. These effects of human activities on coastal biotopes are the basis of Theme 6, and the concepts upon which this is constructed are based on system processes including development in time. The evaluation of existing concepts for dealing with habitat change, and the identification of obstacles to effective management (including knowledge gaps) is an important aim of Theme 6. Technologies are identified for the recovery of habitats through the development of coastal environment-focused technologies.

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The concept of Theme 6 is focused on the eco-morphology in coastal habitats related to wetlands and estuaries taking into account the various human activities that may influence the area. Above is a simple diagram illustrating the various human caused impacts that may influence the habitat: physics: ship traffic, navigational channels, harbours, fishing, and activities from tourism. Chemical substances such as oil spill, nutrients from agriculture, urban sewage and other topics related to water quality. Biology and biology are the ecological factors in the coastal zone including various biotopes and species from flora and fauna and the sediment dynamics, type of sediment, type of dynamic morphology in the area. The problem faced is increased human exploitation and infrastructure developments in the coastal and estuarine zones influence the geo-and eco-morphology resulting in enlarged stress on coastal habitats.

Theme 6 Objectives

  • To identify appropriate data to support the understanding and quantification of the physical and ecological processes in the coastal environment
  • To identify tools to assess and quantify the development- and use-related impacts on eco-morphology and coastal habitats
  • To work on potential improvements to the existing tools
  • To describe causes based on case studies
  • To produce the ENCORA WIKI of well-proven and documented measures
  • To share the experiences gained by researchers and practitioners from the application of tools and methods to real-life cases
  • To address gaps in knowledge for further intervention

Role of the Coastal Wiki

The Coastal WIKI was decided to be the dissemination tool for the ENCORA action because it is seen as a state of the art tool for communication on the internet. Starting with the theme specific workshop in Valencia and evolving throught the WIKI communication, the following topics have been identified and further elaborated:

  • Identification of important processes in the coastal zone related to coastal habitats
  • Classification of coastal habitats: spatial and biological characteristics
  • Regulations through EU directives
  • Key issues affecting the coastal habitats e.g. pollution and climate change
  • Tools and methodologies
  • Case studies
  • Projects and resources


State of the Art Conclusions in Theme 6

  • The impacts of Climate Change on the European Marine and Coastal Environment specifically in relation to coastal habitats is to a certain extend established. It is however an ongoing task to combine the existing knowledge with new and especially to address the pace at which changes undergo
  • New and old species in the coastal zone are important with respect to the role of habitat-forming flora and fauna on sedimentation, erosion and ecosystem functioning.

Key words: anthropogenic factors, biota, physical processes, biodiversity, management, invasive species, coastal morphology, impacts

  • Public awareness is an important issue for the future management and use of the coastal zone. Increased awareness and understanding will make the coastal habitats gain from involving the public in processes related to use of the coastal zone
  • Eutrophication and its impact on coastal habitats is an issue that needs continuous addressing in order to understand and meet the consequences

Objectives of the Action Plans

  • To identify the key scientific and technical issues for advancing sustainable management of our coastal and marine zones.
  • To identify major unresolved issues set by climate change, development pressure, trends in environmental quality and extreme events.
  • To provide a reference base for future coastal and marine research investments in Europe.

Role of the Theme Workshops

  • To analyse the ideas contributed, individually, in the preparatory phase before the conference.
  • To identify the most crucial missing knowledge links to which future concerted European research effort should be dedicated.
  • To cluster and rank these ideas, so as to reach a consensus-based set of research priorities.
  • To provide precise, well focused, concrete and challenging proposals.

Initial identification of issues to be addressed

The topics presented in Theme 6 include research on the effects of development and use in different European countries. The goal is to find means to evaluate existing concepts for dealing with habitat change and identifying obstacles to effective management, including major existing knowledge gaps. It is also the vision to identify promising technologies for recovery of habitats through the development of environmental technologies that are focused on the coastal environment. In the table below, an indication of the impact from various human activities on the coastal zone is given.


Management needs to address all the direct threats to marine and coastal areas in order to protect and conserve the biodiversity and habitats. The threats to marine habitats are accumulating over time, because there are various sources of impact as indicated in the above table. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment states that: “Marine and coastal protected areas already dot coasts around the world, and the number of protected areas continues to increase. By far the bulk of these protected areas occur in coastal zones, and many include both terrestrial and aquatic components. However, even with the large number of individual sites, coverage accounts for less than 1% of the world’s oceans. Many marine protected areas occur in relatively close proximity to human settlements— in fact, nearly 10% of the world lives within 50 kilometres of a marine protected area, and over 25% of the worldwide coastal population lives within 50 kilometres of one. The figures for Europe are believed to be even larger.”

Another aspect is that management effectiveness of most marine protected areas remains questionable even though The Water Framework Directive and projects undertaken under the LOICZ (Land–Sea Interactions in the Coastal Zone) initiative are European examples of how management is taken seriously in Europe aiming at and resulting in lower pollutant loads and improved conditions in estuaries. But the need for even larger integrated water resource management schemes is persistent not least because of the dynamic nature of the water environment.

Some of the major topics identified for Theme 6 are given in the non-exhaustive list below:

  • Climate change effects
  • Nutrient dynamics
  • Pollution
  • Human activities and their impact (e.g. fishery, tourism, agriculture etc)
  • Threats to the coastal zone, natural and human induced
  • Land-based impacts

Regulation

The articles on regulations are primarily concerned with EU regulations forming the major part of the overall regulations for the coastal zone. They include the overall water framework directive addressing the ecological and chemical status of marine habitats, maritime policies and proposed marine strategies and specific directives addressing EU’s policy on nature conservation consisting of two directives, the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive and NATURA 2000, which is a number of protected coastal areas all over Europe.


Tools and Methodologies

Methodologies for assessing the human impact of the coastal habitats vary from Habitat/biotopes mapping and Habitat assessment using GIS, remote sensing and other measuring techniques in the field to dynamic models describing the mater-sediment-nutrient interaction to economic methodologies for assessing human pressure on the coastal habitats and the general benefits for the environment. In this respect the idea of ecosystem services needs to be more closely addressed. We derive many goods from the coastal ecosystem not least seafood, but also recreational services. These goods represent important and familiar parts of the economy. What has been less appreciated until recently is that this ecosystem also perform fundamental life-support services including purification of air and water, detoxification and decomposition of waste, regulation of climate, and not least production and maintenance of biodiversity.

Tools addressing the eco-morphology in coastal habitats are varied depending on the aspect under consideration. It varies from field investigations, dynamic modelling, economic assessments and management strategies. One way of learning about others experience is through case studies, continuously being added to the list.

The ENCORA idea is to generate and maintain strong networks within the European coastal community. This is done both through the personal communication among individuals but also through collaboration and exchange of knowledge. A non-exhaustive list of relevant research projects in Europe is given.

Identification of knowledge gaps

  • Are the existing ecological models adequate for simulating the processes that we want to highlight in relation to eco-morphology and costal habitats?
  • Do we know enough about the main processes, and do we generally agree on those
  • Is the green paper the right tool for the future European maritime policy.
  • What are good practise in relation to eco-morphology and coastal habitats? Denmark is known for its extensive data sets from decades of monitoring. Now the monitoring is cut down. Do we have the data that are needed?

New research issues

  1. Relationship between ecosystem function and the provision of services.
  2. Identification of ecosystem functions (relationship with biodiversity); quantification of ecosystem services; environmental limits of acceptable change (e.g. biodiversity loss)
  3. Impact of environmental change on ecosystem services: overexploitation of resources; land use change and habitat fragmentation; climate change; pollution; invasive species
  4. Restoration technologies for ecosystem services

Conclusions drawn

  • The impacts of Climate Change on the European Marine and Coastal Environment specifically in relation to coastal habitats is to a certain extend established. It is however an ongoing task to combine the existing knowledge with new and especially to address the pace at which changes undergo
  • New and old species in the coastal zone are important with respect to the role of habitat-forming flora and fauna on sedimentation, erosion and ecosystem functioning.

Key words: anthropogenic factors, biota, physical processes, biodiversity, management, invasive species, coastal morphology, impacts

  • Public awareness is an important issue for the future management and use of the coastal zone. Increased awareness and understanding will make the coastal habitats gain from involving the public in processes related to use of the coastal zone
  • Eutrophication and its impact on coastal habitats is an issue that needs continuous addressing in order to understand and meet the consequences

Measures of sustainability in an ENCORA perspective attempt to describe the negative impacts between human activities or interventions, ecology and the coastal environment. Measures vary between disciplines: for example, those used in economics may be quite different from others used in areas such as biology and engineering. For biology, which is the most important aspect with regard to coastal habitats, several useful measures have been developed by researchers, and the simpler measures are then often combined into composite measures which attempt to more fully assess the sustainability of the system. The various topics within Theme 6 may have different measures depending on the specific content. Sustainable development is a goal for most habitats, because it ensures the system services to be available at the same time securing the state of the specific environment.

The Paris workshop gave the conclusions listed above in this section. In summary, they conclude that the impacts of Climate Change on the European Marine and Coastal Environment specifically needs to be addressed with regard to the pace at which changes undergo. In this context, new and old species in the coastal zone are important with respect to the role of habitat-forming flora and fauna on sedimentation, erosion and ecosystem functioning. One of the key challenges is rising the public awareness Increased awareness and understanding will make the coastal habitats gain from involving the public in processes related to use of the coastal zone

Agreed Final action plans

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TITLE Coastal habitats: response to and recovery from environmental change
WHY Management of coastal habitats require tools and methodologies for forecasting their response to environmental changes including sediment management, pollution and climate change.
WHAT Development of management options addressing sustainability, recovery and restoration of coastal habitats to environmental perturbation
HOW Identify and quantify processes and functions, incorporate these into models and develop scenarios of different spatial and temporal scales
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TITLE Development of an operational European observatory network for monitoring and management of coastal systems
WHY Sustainable management requires a consistent and coherent database to be able to detect changes in coastal habitats. The database should consist of data collected at different temporal and spatial scales and possible gaps should be identified and filled.
WHAT Analyse and report trend indicators. Develop an alert system for early warning. Create a decision support system for coastal habitats.
HOW Set up a network of observatories across Europe to collect, share and interpret core data. Identify core data-sets essential for understanding the changes in coastal habitats with respect to natural and anthropogenic factors.

APPENDIX

List of Participants

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NAME INSTITUTE
Alberto Lamberti University of Bologna
Alex Midlen CoastNet
Boris Chubarenko P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology Russian Academy of Scien.
Elizabeth Williams University of Southampton
Georgia Mavromati IUEHR-Panteion University
Harvey Tyler Walters Marine Biological Association
Jean-Paul Ducrotoy University of Hull - Inst. of Estuarine and Coastal Studies
John Widdows Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Karen Edelvang DHI Water Environment Health
Tycjan Wodzinowski Sea Fisheries Institute in Gydnia

Individual Contributions from the Paris workshop

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TITLE Identification of invasive species in coastal habitats
WHY Growing problem in some areas e.g. the Wadden Sea
WHAT Identify the problem, monitor its abundance and look for counteraction or adaption strategies
HOW Monitor changes in abundance of specific species, seek information from similar locations
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TITLE Understanding and forecasting the impact of climate change on biogeomorphology of estuaries
WHY Natural coastal defences (intertidal flats and saltmarshes) are under threat due to changes in climate (increased storminess) and sea level rise
WHAT Improved estuarine and coastal models capable of forecasting biogeomorphological change under different scenarios
HOW Identification and quantification of key hydro-bio-sedimentary processes and their incorporation into models of estuarine sediment dynamics and morphology. Also require long term monitoring of seasonal and interannual changes in sediment elevation for calibration and validation of models.
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TITLE The restoration of damaged estuarine habitats as a strategy to respond to climate change.
WHY Polders and land claims have restricted and fragmented estuarine ecosystems all around Europe.
WHAT De-polderise and re-create estuarine habitats as part of a retreating strategy.
HOW Assess goods and services from estuaries. Model sea level rise and other changes. Elaborate a vision of estuary at 25 and 50 years ahead.
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TITLE Monitoring of coastal zoon for costal fisheries and spawning grounds condition
WHY Ecological conditions in coastal areas have a significant impact on quality of fish spawning grounds and subsequently on fish recruitment
WHAT Monitoring and modeling of the biotic, abiotic and human impacts on fishes health and spawning grounds conditions
HOW Monitoring and collecting data on changes in abundance and condition of species, water and bottom condition, human activity, comparison of information from similar locations
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TITLE Adaptation and Mitigation Policies for confronting climate change impacts on Coastal Waters
WHY Climate change is considered as one of the major contributors to the degradation of marine environment
WHAT Prevention of further degradation of marine environment and adoption of policies and measures to manage the impacts of climate change
HOW Establishment of an European monitoring system for key physicochemical and biological elements. Identifications and evaluation of the effects of human activities upon coastal ecosystems and biodiversity. Designing of effective policy instuments for the sustainable managment and use of the coastal waters
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TITLE Coastal Sediment Budgets as tools to aid Coastal Management
WHY Through improved understanding of sediment change within systems such as estuaries, management can refocus on sediment management in order to sustain valuable coastal environments. For example, where dredging works remove sediment from an estuary this sediment could be recycled to recharge intertidal zones.
WHAT Identification and quantification of the historic changes of sources, sinks and stores within coastal systems and causes for these changes.
HOW Case study investigations in different sites along the European coast where data is available


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TITLE Database of data and coastal monitoring projects along the European coast
WHY A database of data regarding coastal monitoring and work on the coastal zone would be a useful tool to aid projects investigating the coastal zone and highlight gaps in current knowledge and possible needs for future work
WHAT Identification of availability, location and dates of data, e.g. salt marsh erosion rate along the European coast, to aid coastal projects
HOW Online website where researchers and companies can log what and where data is available, what projects are being completed and contact details


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TITLE From fundamentals of physics and bio-geo-chemistry towards sustainable management of European transitional waters regarding reality of climate change and society development
WHY Coastal areas of restricted exchange as morphological units containing transitional waters are the buffer zone between land and a sea. Cascade transport of water and matter from the watershed area faces the marine environment in transition waters. Vice versa, the energy flux from the open sea towards the shore is transformed into sediment transport and erosion within them. Transitioanal waters form an interface between human society and marine environment, they are first subject of synergy effect of natural (climate) changes and anthropogenic forcing.
WHAT Fundamentals of physical and bio-geochemical functioning, water-, nutrients-, sediment-, budgets, long and short-term forecasts, management plans, operational systems
HOW Field and laboratory studies, modelling