Coastal Management Case Studies

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Kate Jones

Describe and evaluate possible solutions to the management of coastlines, by the use of at least three case studies.

This essay will look at three areas in the world where the management of the coastline is paramount to prevent further erosion and destruction of valuable ecological regions.  The areas that this essay will use as case studies are; the Great Barrier Reef in Eastern Australia, Happisburgh in Norfolk and Southampton Water in Hampshire.  In order to manage and protect the coast it is necessary to understand the different physical processes that affect it, the way that the land is used and the interests of those who inhabit it.  Physical processes that affect the coast include erosion, cliff slumping, deposition and longshore drift.  Land use in coastal area includes tourism, fishing, industry and transport.  Groups who may have an interest in how the coast is managed would include; local residents, local councils, landowners, governments, environmental bodies and national park authorities.

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world, (Dove et al, 2009 pp73).  The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) is over 2300km long and is made up of over 2900 reefs and 940 islands and cays.  The reef is a vitally important area, firstly in terms of conserving the diverse wildlife and ecosystem that is there and secondly because it provides major security benefits to coastal communities and provides significant income for Australia’s economy in the form of tourism (  The Barrier Reef became a marine park in 1975 and was designated a World Heritage site in 1981 (Dove et al, 2009).  Human activities are the reef’s biggest threat.  Water running off the land from agricultural and urbanised areas has been found to contain pesticides, chemicals and other pollutants which can endanger the delicate coral reef ecosystem.  Overfishing, especially of a particular group or species of fish, has become a considerable risk that needs to be addressed.  Both commercial and tourist ships regularly cross the Great Barrier Reef area, which potentially could result in chemical and oil spills.  Coupled with the dumping of waste products it can be seen that shipping is also a substantial threat to the area (  So, in order to manage the reef, a zoning programme has been implemented.  This is a plan that divides that GBRMP up into different zones and dictates where different types of activities can take place (Dove et al, 2009, pp73).  Zoning is divided into seven types; a General Use Zone, A Habitat Protection Zone, A Conservation Zone, a Buffer Zone, a Scientific Research Zone, a Marine Park Zone and a Preservation Zone.  Activities are dependent on the type of zone and the park is patrolled to enforce the zoning, with penalties being imposed if the regulations are violated (ibid).  Zoning appears to have been successful in conserving the interested stakeholders in the fishing industry.  Fishing in protected zones is prohibited and this has led to stocks of previously threatened species of fish, including coral trout and red emperor fish, recovering significantly (  Zoning has also had a positive effect on both the economy of Queensland and more widely, Australia as a whole.  In 2004, reef industries contributed approximately $5.8 billion to the economy and employed 63,000 people (  Therefore, it can be seen that zoning has been vital in creating a balance between the needs of industry, government, community and the ecosystem to ensure that the Great Barrier Reef remains sustainable and protected.

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Figure 1 Map showing the Queensland coast and zoning areas of the Great Barrier Reef

The United Kingdom also needs to manage its coastline as the next two case studies will show.  The coastline of the UK is divided up into a series of cells that each have their own Shoreline Management Plan (SMP).  An SMP is a large scale project to assess the risks associated with coastal processes and to devise strategies to reduce the risk to coastal communities and the environment (

Figure 2 Map of United Kingdom showing North Norfolk

Figure 3 Detailed ...

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