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The preparation of these guidelines has mobilized the FAO Inter-Departmental Working Group on Integrated Coastal Area Management (IDWG/ICAM), as well as a number of experts drawn from international institutions and universities.

The guidelines have been technically edited by Nadia Scialabba, Secretary of IDWG/ICAM, working in the Environment and Natural Resources Service of the FAO Sustainable Development Department. It is based on drafts prepared by Louise F. Scura, David Insull, Cormac Cullinan and Nadia Scialabba (Part A), Andrew Dorward and Abdelghani Souirji (Part B), Paul Vantomme and Mette Loyche-Wilkie (Part C), Stephen Cunningham and Olivier Thébaud (Part D), and Caroline Blatch and Cormac Cullinan (Part E), whose contributions are very much appreciated.

Special thanks also go to Michael Cracknell, Gloria Soave, Anne Aubert, Marina Criscuolo, Omar Bolbol, Ira_ Sassi and Jane Shaw for their help in editing and designing this document.

Scialabba, Nadia (ed.). 1998. Integrated coastal area management and agriculture, forestry and fisheries. FAO Guidelines. Environment and Natural Resources Service, FAO, Rome. 256 p.


These guidelines address the incorporation of agriculture, forestry and fisheries planning into integrated coastal area management (ICAM). The external or internal environmental effects that each of these sectors generate, as well as the environmental impacts originating outside these sectors and affecting them need to be taken into account in sector plan formulation. These guidelines examine issues specific to the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors, and suggest the processes, information requirements, policy directions, planning tools and possible interventions that are necessary for ICAM.

Sustainable development of coastal areas involves enhancing national capacities for integrated coastal resources management. Any coastal development strategy will be influenced by the respective strengths of the bargaining positions of the many parties involved. These guidelines aim at improving the bargaining position of the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors, in order to allow them to take a proactive stance, seek to clarify and quantify trans-sectoral impacts and formulate and coordinate appropriate management interventions.

These guidelines advocate coordinated sectoral management according to commonly agreed goals and objectives for coastal area development. Negotiation, conflict resolution, and participatory planning are central elements.

Part A of these guidelines introduces the general concepts involved in ICAM and focuses on major issues common to coastal agriculture, forestry and fisheries. The legal framework and institutional arrangements for ICAM are outlined. Attention is drawn to the need for appropriate institutional coordination, information bases, analytical techniques and processes when dealing with the interaction and conflicts of interest between different sectors and user groups. The iterative process for developing ICAM strategies and plans is emphasized.

Parts B, C and D identify the distinctive characteristics and requirements with respect to ICAM for the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors, respectively. The focus is on interactions among the sectors, information requirements, and policy and planning needs for ICAM.

Part E examines conflicting claims over the allocation and use of coastal natural resources that can lead to the degradation of the environment. It proposes alternative mechanisms to facilitate the resolution of conflicts that may arise in the context of ICAM.

Key words: Integrated coastal area management; coastal zone management; coastal agriculture; coastal fisheries; coastal forestry; dispute resolution; conflict management; participatory planning.

Users guide


At present, one-quarter of the world's population of some 5.9 billion live in coastal areas and most of the largest urban concentrations are on the coast. The current coastal urban population of 220 million is projected to almost double in the next 20 to 30 years. Unless appropriate action is taken by governments and users of coastal resources, population pressure and associated levels of economic activity will further increase the already evident overexploitation of coastal resources and environmental degradation of many coastal habitats. In many developing countries, this trend is further exacerbated by widespread extreme poverty and unemployment. Furthermore, conflict often arises from competing and antagonistic uses of resources, or from the displacement of traditional users of coastal resources by new economic activities.

Integrated coastal area management (ICAM) offers a means of balancing the competing demands of different users of the same resources and of managing the resources to optimize the benefits to be derived on a sustainable basis that is consistent with a country's goals.

In many countries, sector-oriented line ministries have the mandate, technical competence and professional experience to conserve, manage and develop coastal resources. Commitment on the part of some ministries is a condition for the successful adoption and application of truly integrated plans for the conservation, management and development of coastal resources. In addition to as the institutional capacities to undertake their tasks, the ministries must also have staff with a sufficiently flexible approach for constructive collaboration across ministries.

These guidelines describe the institutional options, policy processes, planning mechanisms and issues specific to the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors, respectively, with regard to ICAM. Since there are many approaches to resolving the often difficult institutional problems that arise when countries seek to adopt ICAM, guidance is proposed, rather than recipes.

Perhaps the most critical lesson to be learned from what is still fairly limited experience in ICAM is the need for adequate human and financial resources to be made available. In most cases, this calls for a reallocation of funds, rather than additional funding. However, line ministries understandably find it difficult to shift priority away from their traditional, sector-based issues to cross-sectoral ones.

Experience also points to a need to distinguish between coastal management strategy, which describes the goals and the means of achieving those goals, and plans, which express the objectives in terms of details, targets, policy instruments, necessary human and financial resources and time-frames.

The guidelines suggest that the responsibility for the preparation of an ICAM strategy (which provides the basis for sectoral plans) should lie with a lead, coordinating organization or body. The preparation of plans and the implementation of the strategy should be the responsibility of the line ministries. Alternatively, a new organization responsible for the design and implementation of ICAM plans might be established by government. The guidelines also suggest that such plans should not stand alone but should be an integral part of sectoral development, resource management and research activities. Plans should be flexible and adjusted periodically as more information becomes available or new issues are addressed.


The aim of these guidelines is to enhance the contribution of the agriculture sector to the integrated management of coastal areas. The agriculture sector, as broadly defined, is comprised of the subsectors of agriculture (including crops and livestock), forestry (including timber, non-wood forest products and wildlife) and fisheries (including capture fisheries and aquaculture). The guidelines also provide an introduction to this approach for those who are not familiar with integrated management.

Specifically, the guidelines are intended to help to develop awareness in the agriculture sector line agencies and among resource users of: 1) the external or internal environmental effects that each sector may generate; and 2) the environmental impacts originating outside the sector and felt in one or more of the subsectors. In addition, the guidelines indicate ways for planners and resource users in each of the subsectors to take these impacts into account in plan formulation. Since any ICAM strategy will be influenced by the respective strengths of the bargaining positions of the many parties involved, the guidelines seek to improve the bargaining positions of the agriculture, forestry and fisheries subsectors. Other major interested parties include industry, urban areas and dwellers, the tourist sector, industrial ports, sea transport (including oil transport) and mining.

The guidelines should be useful, even where there are no formal institutional and organizational arrangements for integration and coordination for ICAM. Line agencies can take a proactive stance, and seek to clarify and quantify trans-sectoral impacts, as well as formulating and coordinating appropriate management interventions. This, in turn, will help to develop a constituency for more formal organizational arrangements for ICAM and the adoption of appropriate management strategies.

The goal of the guidelines is, therefore, to assist countries to achieve sustainable development of their coastal resources by contributing to:


The guidelines are intended particularly for planners in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries subsectors who are concerned with development planning and natural resource management in marine coastal areas or in areas adjoining large inland water bodies. In addition, they are intended for officials in agencies with responsibilities for planning and investment in coastal areas. Finally, they target all those who are concerned with sound environmental conservation and management in coastal areas.


The ambition of the document is to provide guidance on the processes, tools and possible interventions to be used in the integration of the agriculture sector into coastal area management. Since the audience is so broad, in Part A, the main text is complemented with figures, boxes and tables. These contain either general background information (yellow background) or somewhat more technical details (light-blue background). The four following parts are illustrated mainly with case studies and examples contained in boxes.

The guidelines are presented in five parts:

Part A focuses on major issues common to the three subsectors, as well as perspectives and approaches to ICAM. It includes a brief discussion of the main techniques and tools used that are common to integrated policy and planning in agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Aspects of the legal framework of ICAM that are equally applicable to all three subsectors are also included.

Parts B, C and D contain technical issues and requirements specific to agriculture, forestry and fisheries, respectively, with regard to their interactions with other (sub)sectors and their incorporation into ICAM.

Part E examines issues and tools for negotiation and conflict resolution relating to the use of natural resources.

The purpose of Part A is to introduce the general concepts involved in ICAM, and to provide an operational context for agricultural, forestry and fisheries planning in coastal areas. Attention is drawn to the need for appropriate information bases, analytical techniques and processes to cope with the interactions and conflicts of interest between different activities, (sub)sectors and interest groups. Some of the analytical techniques and institutional procedures that can be applied in agriculture, forestry and fisheries are broadly similar, and these are described in Part A.

The purpose of Parts B, C and D is to identify the distinctive characteristics and the requirements for planning in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries subsectors within ICAM. However, because the information requirements in each subsector are substantially different, Parts B, C and D also consider particular features of information required for planning within the context of ICAM.

Terms with which some readers may not be familiar are explained in the text and/or in the Glossary. Further reading and bibliographical sources can be found in References. An Index is provided to assist readers to find specific subjects in the text.


These FAO guidelines support the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) 1992 Earth Summit Agenda 21, Chapter 17, Programme Area A, `Integrated management and sustainable development of coastal and marine areas, including exclusive economic zones'. The guidelines are also relevant to other chapters of Agenda 21.

The guidelines are complementary to FAO Fisheries Technical Paper No. 327, Integrated management of coastal zones (1992). The intention of the earlier publication was to provide some immediate support to UNCED Agenda 21, Chapter 17, Programme Area A, by identifying government actions that can lead to the effective management of coastal resources across the broad range of uses of coastal areas (from agriculture to water control and supply).

These guidelines examine more closely the issues peculiar to the agriculture sector, and describe the policy directions, planning tools and information requirements for policy formulation that are available to planners in these sectors. As such, they are the first `sectoral guidelines' among a number of guidelines so far prepared for ICAM.

A review of progress achieved in the implementation of the ICAM concept since the Earth Summit indicates that it has become a central organizing concept in a number of international agreements formally lacking a coast emphasis (e.g. the Biological Diversity Convention) and that several international entities have developed ICAM guidelines. Cicin-Sain, Knecht and Fisk (1995) compared the coastal management guidelines developed by five different international entities (i.e. OECD in 1991, the World Coast Conference Report in 1993, the World Bank in 1993, Pernetta and Elder for IUCN in 1993 and UNEP in 1995), based on ten major variables that were considered important in the design and implementation of ICAM (often referred to as integrated coastal management Ð ICM) programmes. These ten variables were: the scope/purpose (the major aspects covered); principles; definition of the management area; the functions of ICM; the legal basis for ICM; horizontal integration (mechanisms for intersectoral coordination); vertical integration (mechanisms for intergovernmental integration); financial arrangements; prescriptions on the use of science; and capacity building.

Based on their comparisons, the authors developed a `Consensus set of ICM guidelines' (see Table 1). These guidelines reinforce the consensus but recognize that horizontal and vertical integration cannot be successfully achieved without building the capacity of individual sectors to address trans-sectoral impacts. Thus, the guidelines strengthen the constituent components of the mosaic of users in coastal areas and focus on coordinated sectoral management along commonly agreed goals and strategies. Another conviction expressed in these guidelines is the importance of negotiation and conflict resolution in participatory development planning.

A major international workshop on ICM in tropical countries, held in 1996 in Xiamen, China, discussed the lessons learned from successes and failures experienced with ICM efforts. The workshop generated: 1) an overview of the processes of formulating, designing, implementing and extending ICM within the East Asian region as well as to other regions; and 2) a set of good practices in the formulation, design and implementation of ICM initiatives (IWICM, 1996).

Sorensen (1997) critically reviewed the definitions, achievements and lessons of national and international ICM efforts. He reported that, in the past three decades, ICM practice has involved approximately 90 coastal nations which have been engaged in a least 180 programmes, projects or feasibility studies but that relatively little information has been generated on what works, what does not work and why. He stressed the importance of factors such as: formulation of a better consensus on definitions, concepts and achievement measurement; determination of lessons that can be derived from cross-national comparisions and the transferability of these lessons to international, national, and subnational institutions; and development of new and improved information exchange networks.

A consensus set of integrated coastal management guidelines

Purpose of ICM

The aim of ICM is to guide coastal area development in an ecologically sustainable fashion.


ICM is guided by the Rio Principles with special emphasis on the principle of intergenerational equity, the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle. ICM is holistic and interdisciplinary in nature, especially with regard to science and policy.


ICM strengthens and harmonizes sectoral management in the coastal zone. It preserves and protects the productivity and biological diversity of coastal ecosystems and maintains amenity values. ICM promotes the rational economic development and sustainable utilization of coastal and ocean resources and facilitates conflict resolution in the coastal zone.

Spatial integration

An ICM programme embraces all of the coastal and upland areas, the uses of which can affect coastal waters and the resources therein, and extends seaward to include that part of the coastal ocean that can affect the land of the coastal zone. The ICM programme may also include the entire ocean area under national jurisdiction (Exclusive Economic Zone), over which national governments have stewardship responsibilities under both the Law of the Sea Convention and UNCED.

Horizontal and vertical integration

Overcoming the sectoral and intergovernmental fragmentation that exists in today's coastal management efforts is a prime goal of ICM. Institutional mechanisms for effective coordination among various sectors active in the coastal zone and between the various levels of government operating in the coastal zone are fundamental to the strengthening and rationalization of the coastal management process. From the variety of available options, the coordination and harmonization mechanism must be tailored to fit the unique aspects of each particular national government setting.

The use of science

Given the complexities and uncertainties that exist in the coastal zone, ICM must be built upon the best science (natural and social) available. Techniques such as risk assessment, economic valuation, vulnerability assessments, resource accounting, benefit-cost analysis and outcome-based monitoring should all be built into the ICM process, as appropriate.

Source: Cicin-Sain, Knecht and Fisk, 1995.

1 These are: Chapter 10, `Integrated approach to the planning and management of land resources'; Chapter 11, `Combating deforestation'; Chapter 12, `Managing fragile ecosystems: combating desertification and drought'; Chapter 13, `Managing fragile ecosystems: sustainable mountain development'; Chapter 14, `Promoting sustainable agriculture and rural development'; and Chapter 18, `Protection of the quality and supply of freshwater resources: application of integrated approaches to the development, management and use of water resources'.

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