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