From Ridge to Reef

Article Index
From Ridge to Reef
Threats to the Coast
Coastal Management Initiatives
Role of Science for Integrated Coastal Management
Proposed Agenda for Action
Project Sites
Monitoring and Evaluation Plan
Dissemination of Information
All Pages

Interconnected coastal systems composed of coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, beaches, estuaries and the watersheds, forests and other upland ecosystems that feed them have historically been the basis for subsistence, security and culture of local people throughout the developing world. Coastal ecosystems also constitute an important renewable resource for a wide range of other development uses, such as settlement, transportation, fisheries, aquaculture, forestry, mining, industry, waste disposal and tourism.

Excessive competition for coastal resources often results in widespread habitat destruction. In many cases, coastal ecosystems are subject to a variety of stresses including sedimentation (largely because of deforestation for agriculture, settlement, and road-building), pollution (industrial waste, urban run-off, and sewage disposal), increased harvesting to meet the demands of a growing population, and temperature and sea level variations due to climate change (e.g. El Niño events). Such habitat destruction is a major threat to biodiversity and is one of the leading causes of species extinctions.

The value of the coastal zone - the dynamic interface between the land and sea – cannot be overstated. The coastal region provides the natural resource base for economic development, including maritime trade; fisheries, agriculture and tourism. Millions of livelihoods also depend on the sustainable use of these resources. About 100% of the country‘s population lives within 100 km of the coast and the trend is for more people to move to the coasts as employment and economic recession pressures them out of urban areas. Coastal habitats provide the planet with vital ‗free‘ goods and services, including fish production, regulation of earth‘s climate, the genesis of rainfall, and a place to receive and treat wastes, although this latter function is seldom managed well. In addition, ecosystems based on mangroves and coral reefs help to protect residential, agricultural and industrial areas against coastal erosion, flooding and natural calamities. Although the goods produced from the coast are valuable enough, for example, the Philippine‘s marine capture fisheries were worth US$ 2.5 billion in 2007 (BFAR 2007), the services and protective functions are far more valuable than the intrinsic resources. In fact coastal resources are estimated to have an annual global worth of US$ 12.5 trillion a year (Costanza et al. 1997). The coastal zone of the Philippines illustrates the values of the land-sea fringe areas well: it is home to 7 container ports with an estimated cargo throughput of 70.36 million tons in 2004 (ASEAN Statistical Yearbook 2005); and produces around 2.5 million tons of fish per year from wild stocks and 2.2 million tons of aquaculture products (BFAR Fisheries Profile 2007). The country is also the epi-center of marine biodiversity, and contains 30% of the region‘s coral reefs and mangroves (Burke et al. 2002).

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