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Map of the week – Integrated Coastal Zone Management

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Map of the week – Integrated Coastal Zone Management

Coastal zones are some of the most productive regions in the world and offer a wide variety of valuable habitats for diverse marine ecosystems [1] – think of coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass meadows. In turn, the ecosystem services provided by these coastal zones attract human activities and support lucrative tourism, fisheries, transportation and energy industries. The appeal of coastal zones is illustrated by the more than 200 million European citizens that live near coastlines [1]. Unfortunately, the growing urbanization of these regions and the overexploitation of their natural resources are causing the destruction and pollution of coastal habitats, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, leading to conflicts between different economic activities.  Furthermore, coastal regions are particularly sensitive to the effects of climate change. Warming temperature and acidification cause coral reef bleaching while sea level rise and extreme weather events accelerate coastal erosion, threatening marine ecosystems and coastal communities alike [2].

In order to protect these regions from climate change and ensure that coastal ecosystems and the diverse human activities that depend on them can coexist, there is a need for an integrated, long-term and sustainable management approach. Integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) aims to coordinate the collection of information, planning, application and monitoring of different policies related to human activities like nature protection, aquaculture, fisheries, agriculture, industry, off shore wind energy, shipping, tourism, development of infrastructure and mitigation and adaptation to climate change [1].

In order to promote the sustainable development of coastal zones, the European Commission (EC) has drafted a proposal for a Directive that aims to establish a common framework for the coherent application of integrated coastal management and marine spatial planning [3]. In order to support and ensure the exchange of experiences and best practices learned from ICZM projects across Europe, EC’s Directorate General for the Environment (DG ENV) commissioned the OURCOAST initiative which formed a further step in the joint efforts of the European Commission, Member States, coastal regions to implement sustainable coastal management. The map of the week shows the locations of the different ICZM projects involved in the OURCOAST initiative, the theme of the project as well as the support from different European funds like the Life Programme, EU research funding (FP7, Horizon2020, etc.) and Interreg.

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The data in this map were provided by the OURCOAST project.