Sunday, 8 June 2008

Learning for earning?

End of Year Assessment: Conflict Resolution in the Coastal Zone

The topic although broad could have been better handled; in this instance opinions were not expressed as fluidly as wished, and the tendency to meander into even broader topics was experienced frequently. A focus point was not highlighted and therefore walking into dark undergrowth was difficult to avoid. Two many words and little time. This is a reflection of the development over the two years; the discovery of new philosophies and new politics; and also a marked beginning of a new stage.

"Two many words and little time," aptly reflects the scenery surrounding environmental politics; disguising little real action with comfortable words. An arena that will be probed more frequently; a want to become involved has been born.

Development- sustainable?
Coastal Zone Management has definitely broadened the horizons in terms of career development.

Political and Business Unit Head (The Dream Job-ish!)


Monday, 12 May 2008

Heavenly holism

  • Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM): The Holy Grail?

The integration of "conservation objectives with sustainable social and economic development goals."

Richard Girling: Sea Change, 2007

Holistic management is the goal of all coastline managers; to overcome stakeholder conflict, and integrate environmental, social and economic objectives to preserve a healthy coastline. As someone with a knowledge of the significance and meaning of words, "conservation," "economic goals" and "development" do not necessarily sit comfortably together. Does this imply that as long as conservation does not impede or restrict economic and social development, then the environment will be offered protection; if on the other hand, development is hindered will the environment be ignored? In a society governed by spin, it tastes suspicious! It is understandable that a society desires economic safety and stability, but in an era when climate change, a undeniable result of society's need to develop and grow, dominates the political and daily landscape, surely it is time to rethink our attitude to developing; not necessarily putting the gear into total reverse, but employing some of the ethics of even fifty years ago, to survive. For example; community vegetable allotments to restrict the need for importing food, or holidaying in the UK.

"Sustainable," and "development," are two words, which seem destined to be unable to sit together in harmony; they are at opposite ends of a spectrum filled with words, beginning with money, ending with "fat cat!" Where there is development, there is a want of making money; and where there is a want of money, there is a disregard for anyone, or anything that might avert the path to making it. This is not to say that all developers are ignorant of the impact they may have on the environment. It is similar to proposing building sustainable eco-friendly tourism industries in developing countries- great, so when you get there the impact on the environment is minimal, but how did you get there exactly? By plane! It is these details, and contrary principles that make the world of ICZM so difficult to comprehend. The basis for its reasoning is sound, but in practice can it ever be truly successful?

Defra report on the implementation of ICZM in the UK

Bloomin' biodiversity

How do we safeguard biodiversity? The UK's coastline is rich in life; a growing population, pressure for space, coastal squeeze, climate change and sea level rise all present a risk to our teaming diversity in coastal species and habitats.

  • EC Habitats Directive; adopted by the European community in 1992, the Directive laid out strict lines for the preservation of biodiversity. Theoretically, the directive has statutory weight, as the UK must meet the requirements set out for the conservation of species and habitats, and report to the EC every six years. In many ways the directive has been one of the most effective tools in providing protection for UK biodiversity; European pressure forced a less-than willing government into action. Traditionally, the government relied heavily upon the voluntary sector in terms of marine conservation. Without any legal clout, the voluntary sector, although central to effective implementation of conservation techniques at the grass roots level, would not necessarily win in a fight with business, if say, that business wished to build on an area of biological significance, volunteers would not be armed with the right weapons to defeat such an enemy.
  • Biodiversity Action Plans: A result set in motion by the acceptance of the Habitats Directive, the government set about drawing up BAPs to fulfill the requirements of the directive.
UK Biodiversity Action Plans

Tools of the trade

Without an integrated system of coastline management how does the UK manage and protect one of it's finest assets? On the coast, many stakeholders vie for their interest to be heard and held foremost. The conflicting nature of coastal interests often leads to ineffective management. With many stakeholders lacking any form of statutory authority, coastal management can often be seen as contradictory and incompetent.

Falmouth: Cornwall
Articles regarding the banning of scallop dredging in Falmouth Bay, an area designated as a Special Area of Conservation. (SAC) A hideously disfiguring and invasive form of fishing, scallop dredging has been allowed to continue in an area, supposedly protected under SAC designation. "Ignorance is bliss," comes to mind! As the damage caused by dredging is rarely seen, it is easier to ignore it.

Telegraph Article
Defra report on the damage caused by scallop dredging in the Fal and Helford SAC

Closure of the SAC to dredging: finally, it seems that after thirty years of unacknowledged abuse, the government has decided that it is time to put an end to illegal dredging. One benefit of the closure is that there will time for consultation on reinforcing the protection measures placed on the SAC, and the possible designation of Marine Protected Area (MPA) to be awarded.

Closure of the Fal and Helford SAC

Falmouth Packet Article

  • Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Areas of "strict" protection, designated under the EC Habitats Directive. "Strict" protection? If abuse as above in Falmouth is allowed to continue, strict is hardly a word that springs to mind, shoddy, for instance? As for "Special" area of conservation; special when it suits! Ignored when it does not.

Defra defines Marine Protected Areas

Sunday, 11 May 2008

All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea -- whether it is to sail or to watch it -- we are going back from whence we came.

John. F. Kennedy; American President; (1917-1963)

The Water Wars

Conflicts are initiated for a number of reasons; the obtaining of something or someone another country or tribe possesses, or for the constraint of another population under a different religious or political doctrine. Will the next global conflict be fought over the most precious life-sustaining resource- water?

New Scientist Article: Barcelona- the beginning of the water wars?
Global Policy website: determining the possibility of conflict over water
BBC Report: Conflict and water in Africa

Controlling the Uncontrollable...

  • Managing the Unmanageable
Link to "Shifting Shores": a National Trust publication which lays out the management ideology behind safeguarding National Trust properties facing imminent danger from sea level rise.

The National Trust's position is one of adaptation; working with and not against the "grain" of nature. Nature should be respected, not restricted. It was, after all, natural processes that created our coastline; conversely it will be nature that rids us of parts of our coastline.

Mullion Cove, Cornwall: Mullion Harbour is just one National Trust property whose battle lines are drawn against the encroaching sea. Facing increased storminess and ever mounting maintenance bills, the National Trust commissioned a report to aid in their decision as to the best fate for Mullion Harbour.

The Tide is High...

  • Sea Level Rise and Coastal Erosion
"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in average global air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level."

"Global GHG emissions due to human activities have grown since pre-industrial times, with an increase of 70% between 1970 and 2004."

"It is very likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past fifty years."

Quotes taken from the 4th IPCC Assessment Report published in November 2007.

Climate change is a product of anthropogenic abuse; globally, civilisation, or more accurately the developed world, has altered the direction of Earth's future. Ironically, it will not be the developed countries that face the full force of changing nature, but the poorest. This is not to say that the richer west will escape from the path of an altered environment, but it screams intolerable injustice, that the least responsible countries, already afflicted with drought, mass poverty and disease should be the ones to pay our greatest debt to nature. Bangladesh, for instance, one of the world's poorest countries will be one of the worst affected by rising sea levels.

"Bangladesh is extremely vulnerable, and there is a major moral issue because this is not a problem that people here have caused."

Saleem-ul Huq: Fellow at the International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED)

World Bank report on the sea level rise threat to Bangladesh and possible management options

Statement made by the High Commissioner of Bangladesh

International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED)

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

A Question of Ownership?

We shall never understand the natural environment until we see it as a living organism. Land can be healthy or sick, fertile or barren, rich or poor, lovingly nurtured or bled white. Our present attitudes and laws governing the ownership and use of land represent an abuse of the concept of private property.... Today you can murder land for private profit. You can leave the corpse for all to see and nobody calls the cops.

Paul Brooks; The Pursuit of Wilderness: 1971

  • Owning the coast; protection and protest
Lyme Regis: Is the Crown ignoring its responsibility?
The Crown Estate, through archaic property laws and doctrine owns the foreshore and seabed to 12 nautical miles. By definition the word suggests that with ownership comes a responsibility to that which one owns. If, say someone was dumping silage on your land, you the owner would want to prosecute the culprit, and protect your land from it happening again.

At Lyme Bay on the Dorset coast, scallop dredging is having a devastating effect on a colony of Pink Sea Fans. The Pink Sea Fan is a protected species, due to its rarity. (Wildlife & Countryside Act, 1981) The bay had previously been the site of a voluntary no-take-zone, where an agreement between campaigners and fishermen closed off an area to dredging in the hope that the area might begin to recover. However, it was soon acknowledged that the fishermen were beginning to ignore the ruling, and were dredging in the closed area.

The Crown, owns the seabed, and all plant life attached to it; therefore the Crown is surely responsible for the protection of it? So, by doing nothing, is the Crown forfeiting its responsibility as owner, and if so, why? The Crown owns the majority of the coastal zone, and if their ignorance of their responsibility at Lyme Bay, is just a taster of their managerial approach to their property, is this the sort of organisation the UK needs to manage one of it most valuable assets. The seabed and foreshore supply the Crown with an income; surely in return, the Crown should offer some protection?

Crown Estate website
Since 1965, the NT has been buying areas of the UK coastline in a bid to preserve and maintain their health. It currently owns 40% of the UK coast, and is it's biggest conservationist.

Map: Australia increases her size

Article: Australia increases her size
Bonanza for oil and gas
Oil and Gas continued
The race for the Arctic

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Fortune is not satisfied with inflicting one calamity

Publius Syrus (42 B.C)

Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory; Permanent Service for Sea Level Rise

Recording sea level change data since 1933

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

In the end, our society will be defined
not only by what we create, but by what
we refuse to destroy.

John C. Sawhill (1936-2000)
President of The Nature Conservancy, 1990-2000

Assignment Abstract

The Question;

“Rises in sea levels could have a major impact upon communities in coastal and estuarine areas,” suggests the 2002 report, “The State of the Cornish Environment.” ( the likely impacts on the Cornish coastline and evaluate appropriate management techniques to contain the challenge.

The Abstract;

Sea level rise is not a phenomenon to be discussed but an event that requires action. The sea is a dynamic and unpredictable force, from which the coastline and its communities need to be protected: fact- the sea is intruding. The risks facing the global and local communities inhabiting the coastal zone are wide-ranging; flooding, erosion, increased frequency and ferocity of storm surges, and the threat to freshwater supplies from the encroachment of saline water inland. The coastline is a pressurised melting-pot of interests; social, economic and environmental. The often contradictory interests of coastal stakeholders are generally the first, in what can seem like a perpetual line of hurdles to effective management of the coastal zone. The UK has a non-statutory approach to the management of the coastal zone: there is no one authority to which responsibility for management is attributed; instead the sectoral nature of UK coastal zone management is seen as an impediment to efficient management.

The objective of this essay is to highlight the urgency for an integrated management system for the UK’s coastline. Its purpose is to not just stress the environmental impact on species and habitats, but also to focus on the socio-economic impacts on communities facing the threat of sea level rise. Climate change is an established and proven consequence of centuries of anthropogenic abuse of the world’s resources; it is now the turn of the world’s population to take responsibility and preserve the continued existence and prosperity of not only the world’s species and ecosystems but themselves.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Fictional Press Release

Fictional Press Release concerning the importance of a UK Marine Bill

Release Date: 28th November 2007

Disappointment for Marine Conservationists following Queen’s Speech

[1] Marine Conservationists are frustrated with a government who promised much and delivered little. The inclusion in the Queen’s speech, on the 6th November 2007, of proposals to draft a Marine Bill, falls very short of expectation. Speculation surrounding the Marine Bill has been in circulation for a number of years; included two years ago in the Queen’s speech, but hope was extinguished as the government yet again bowed out of committing itself to protecting the British marine environment. Melissa Moore, Senior Policy Officer for the Marine Conservation Society commented that the proposal promised “little more than another consultation.” For most this seems like a bitter march back into the confusion and conflict of government rhetoric.

Only 0.001% of the seabed and 0.12% of territorial waters are fully protected under British law. A recent Royal Commission report concluded that 34% of the UK coastline should come under the protection of no-take-zones. NTZs are a controversial topic; coming under strict scrutiny from the fishing community, who review NTZs as an attempt to ruin their industry. Through the exclusion of all activity in one area, it has been proven that fish stocks in adjacent areas have flourished. NTZs also provide an ecosystem with time; time to recover.

At Skomer Island, in Wales, the news was received with disappointment. Skomer is already protected under the designation of Marine Nature Reserve, and is the UK’s only coastal MNR. However, campaigners have been working for over 10 years to receive no-take-zone designation, like that at Lundy Island, for the area surrounding Skomer. Although protected, the MNR designation only covers to the low water mark, beyond this there are no regulations protecting the diversity of habitats or species. Mr. Michael Davis, head of a voluntary group, working with the MNR, added that “the news acts merely to force back urgently required legislation. To say the present looks bleak is a vast understatement. To say the future looks utterly bleak is a vast understatement. However, here at Skomer we shall continue to push our case forwards; nothing yet is lost, how sure I can be of that in the future is still uncertain.”

Contact: Jessica Wheeler at


1 Girling, R: Sea Change; Britain’s Coastal Catastrophe: Eden Project Books, Transworld Publishers: 2007

2 Press Association: The Queen’s Speech: Bill by Bill: 06/11/2007: The Guardian:

3 Marinet: The Marine Bill; A Sea Change in Action; Developing the Structure for the Sustainable Management of UK Seas: Marinet: 2006

4 Eades, S.D: Consultation on Proposals for a Marine Bill; Letter to Mr. D. Bench, Head of Marine Legislation Devision, DEFRA: Marinet: 2006

A Fictional Article; Safe Haven

An article written concerning the necessity of No-Takes Zones and the importance of a UK Marine Bill

In the mid-summer of 2009, the British people came together to form the largest peaceful protest the world had ever witnessed. The aim: to secure full protection for Britain’s marine environment. They protested for a simple cause; they protested in their millions; and they won.


Betty Vallentine allows herself a wry smile

as she says, “although we must not forget our

great achievement in the summer of 2009,”

adds that “it is crucial to remember that

there is still much work to be done in the light

of the full force of climate change.” An
original member
of the Fight for Marine Life team, whose famous march on the House of Commons cemented the gravity of the future facing the UK’s marine environments in the eyes of the British public. Ask any person walking down the street and they will remember the images projected on the Houses of Parliament of the dying seabed, the suffocating species, and a small red haired lady, calling forth the British people; calling for their help. “It was one of the most spectacular and vivid images,” recalls Chris Jefferson, who took his wife and three children, and joined the protest on the evening of 26th July 2009.

“Well,” Betty exclaims, “it was quite something wasn’t it. I mean, we really didn’t expect the response; we were probably in as much of a state of shock as the government.” The 26th July 2009, will be recorded in history as the day the public drew battle lines against the government, and won. During the morning a small crowd of protesters had gathered outside the Houses of Parliament to listen to Betty, lamenting the urgent need for the ratification of a UK Marine Bill. Betty remembers, “there can only have been a handful of us. I was talking, and felt like screaming. For years we had been campaigning; from our base on Skomer, we had banged our heads repeatedly on the doors of Whitehall. No-one was listening; no-one wanted to hear!”

It was her friend, and fellow campaigner, James Small who persuaded a reporter to record a section of Betty’s speech that morning. “Betty had such stage presence; she was battle hardened, sharp, charismatic and not afraid of anyone,” Small recounts. “I persuaded a friend of mine to film part of the speech, mainly for our records. The rest you could say is history, but I wouldn’t want to be that clich├ęd. The footage found its way into his editor’s hands. We should be thankful that he had green hands, as he aired the footage almost immediately.” From the moment of airing, something about

Betty and the plight of the UK’s seas grabbed the attention of the British Public, “and,” as Betty says, “they just started arriving. In small groups at first, stopping traffic; and then, well, it was just crazy. All you could see were people, and I just kept talking, I just could not stop. For years, I had waited for an opportunity like this; I certainly wasn’t going to waste it.”

It is uncertain just how many people descended on the capitol on that day. London was at a standstill; the tube stood empty, cars were left abandoned, buildings were evacuated as workers made their pilgrimage to the Houses of Parliament: all London drank in the sound of Betty’s message. Normally at a close of session, an unprecedented move saw parliament recalled. “It was almost like a dream; the scale of the demonstration. It all seemed so unreal, and at the centre this flame haired pied piper calling her children to her,” Mr John Evans, MP for Dulwich, remembers. “We had been under tremendous pressure to ratify a Marine Bill, but had thus far only reached the draft and consultation stage. We wanted to be sure that the Bill was practicable. We did not want to undermine our economic and sustainable development with inaccurate conservation measures.” Reading this quote, even now, you can see the fire of protest begin to burn brightly in Betty’s eyes, “It was this arrogant rhetoric that we were fighting. The ignorance: the assumption of man that he is above critique, above checking.” In a metaphorical coup d’etat, conservationists overthrew parliament that day and an act was passed at 11.46pm: the first Marine Bill. “They had it written, all that time. They were just waiting for the ‘appropriate’ or opportune moment.” Betty says.

Although, twenty years have passed, and Betty is now 68 years old, this has not diminished her endless pushing for change. “Achieving the Marine Bill was one small piece in a much larger jigsaw. It was the beginning of the real revolution.” The real revolution, she claims, was the fight just beginning to counteract man’s destruction of earth and the onslaught of climate change. “I am proud of my involvement in the events of the summer of 2009; I shall be prouder still if I can help preserve some little piece of the world I love for my great grandchildren.”

The Marine Bill 2009, in hindsight was passed just before the worst series of global catastrophes the world had ever seen. Beginning with the flooding of most low lying areas in the UK and Europe, to the worst drought on record in both India and Asia, culminating in an outbreak of the deadly “cold-flu” virus, which saw mass devastation of populations across the world.

“So, you see, the fight is never-ending. As long as there is life in me, I shall continue to fight for the preservation of it on earth.”

Getting Started

Apologies, this page is still under major construction!