Test Design Lighthouse

The coastal zone under pressure


Worldwide, 20% of humanity lives less than 25 km away from the coast, and 39%, or 2.2 billion people, live within 100 km of a coastline. For reference, the 100-km-wide coastal strips account for only 20% of the world’s land area. The percentage of population living within 100 km of a coast is 100% in Denmark, 88% in Sweden, 99% in Great Britain, and 79% in Italy (World Resources Institute 2001).


German coasts: above: Baltic Sea near Rügen (Photo: G. Schernewski), below: North Sea near Westerhever (Photo: C.Droste).
The Baltic Sea catchment area encompasses approx. 1,720,000 km² and is four times the size of the Baltic Sea itself.
The increasing pressure for use, e.g. for wind parks or tourism, also gives rise to conflicts. The aim is to solve or alleviate these through coordinating planning. (Photo above: NEG-Mignon)

Coastal zones exhibit great structural diversity (beaches and dune landscapes, cliffs, wetlands, coastal flats, coral reefs, mangrove forests, ice edges, estuaries and lagoons, etc.). They are extremely important as a transformer and sink for terrestrial nutrients and pollutants, and also as a special habitat for plants and animals. Moreover, as the transitional zone between land and water, they possess high species diversity and productivity. At least 250,000 of the 1.7 million known animal and plant species live in the sea, predominantly in coastal waters.



Example: The Baltic


In future, both population growth and economic development worldwide will continue to be concentrated in coastal regions. In Europe, high growth is forecast for the Baltic Sea Region in particular, and its coastal zones will play a central role. These, most of all, will be subject to steadily rising pressure from human use.


Due to its hydrographical and ecological conditions, the Baltic is extremely susceptible to externally induced modifications such as eutrophication, pollution, climate change, the extraction of natural resources, etc. These influences will be magnified by the vastness of the Baltic catchment area, home to 80 million people.


In the terms of the EU Water Framework Directive, the Baltic is designated a coastal sea and an “ecoregion” to be considered as an integral whole. It represents a model region for the development of “marine awareness” within the Integrated Coastal Zone Management framework.


Conflicts over use can be triggered by: alternative energies, aquaculture, tourism, public health, transport, ports and maritime industry, conservation of landscapes and cultural heritage, coastal fishing, public access to coasts and beaches, urban sprawl, extraction of raw materials, pollution, destruction of habitats and loss of species diversity, natural disasters and climate change, coastal erosion and water management. For the future, this means that coastal zones must not only endure the reduction of their natural status, but could also suffer the loss of their socio-economic and ecological functions.



Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM)


To address this, the idea is taking hold worldwide that the future development of coastal zones should be controlled, and the many different uses coordinated in line with the principle of sustainability.


“Integrated Coastal Zone Management” (ICZM) is a process which takes just such an approach: “ICZM seeks, over the long-term, to balance the benefits from economic development and human uses of the coastal zone, the benefits from protecting, preserving and restoring coastal zones, the benefits from minimizing loss of human life and property, and the benefits from public access to and enjoyment of the coastal zone, all within the limits set by natural dynamics and carrying capacity.” (European Commission 1999).


Since the 1990s, the necessity for integrated management of the coastal zone has been generally acknowledged in Europe. Since then, wide-ranging programmes and projects have been carried out (among others, the EU Demonstration Programme). Practical implementation is still wholly inadequate in most European countries, despite the EU’s best efforts. This is explained by the complex legal situation, overlapping spheres of competence, a lack of cooperation and the neglect of coastal seas.


Many national and international initiatives, organisations and projects have taken up the ICZM theme. Yet nowhere is there any overview of the numerous recommendations, strategies and programmes which could facilitate networking and alignment of the different approaches.





The Lighthouse Foundation is therefore supporting the conducting of a study that will give an overview of ICZM actors and activities in the Baltic Sea Region. The aim of this study is to lay a foundation for better networking of activities, and to initiate approaches for optimising and harmonising activities, based on the collected experiences and examples of best practice. The study is being carried out by EUCC – Die Küsten Union Deutschland e.V. (the German branch of the European Coastal Union). The results will be made publicly available by means of Internet publication.





"EUCC - The Coastal Union" (formerly the European Union for Coastal Conservation) was founded in 1989 as an international alliance. With over 600 members in 40 countries, 14 national branches and offices in 7 countries, it has become the most important organisation devoted to coastal issues. Its Council is composed of elected national representatives, and its Executive reports to the International Secretariat, which is headquartered in Leiden, The Netherlands.


The German public benefit association "EUCC - Die Küsten Union Deutschland" (shortened to EUCC-Deutschland) is the German national branch of EUCC International. It maintains the German EUCC office and nominates one member of the Council of EUCC International.


EUCC-Deutschland pursues the aim of promoting Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in Germany by collecting and disseminating information, providing consultancy, education and training, and running events and demonstration projects.


EUCC - The Coastal Union has carried out numerous projects, events, conferences, and expert reports on coastal zone management in Europe. It publishes the magazine “Coastline”, the “Journal of Coastal Conservation”, the “Coastline Reports” pamphlets and the e-mail newsletter “Coastal News”. The EUCC involves itself actively in EU strategy development. EUCC-Deutschland publishes an e-mail newsletter called “IKZM-Aktuell” which goes out to over 700 subscribers. It is the German channel for information on ICZM, reporting on important events in the field of coastal management, conservation and policy, announcing relevant events and profiling new websites.





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