Specials Environment

Posted October 1998


Integrated coastal area management
and agriculture, forestry & fisheries


ABOUT 25% of the world's population lives 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. A new FAO publication, "Integrated coastal area management and agriculture, forestry and fisheries: FAO guidlines", examines issues specific to those sectors, and suggest the processes, information requirements, policy directions, planning tools and possible interventions that are necessary for ICAM.

Any coastal development strategy will be influenced by the respective strengths of the bargaining positions of the many parties involved. The FAO guidelines aim, therefore, at improving the bargaining position of the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors, in order to allow them to take a pro-active stance, seek to clarify and quantify trans-sectoral impacts and formulate and coordinate appropriate management interventions.

FAO advocates coordinated sectoral management according to commonly agreed goals and objectives for coastal area development. Negotiation, conflict resolution, and participatory planning are central elements. The guidelines introduce general ICAM concepts and focus 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.

The guidelines also 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. They examine conflicting claims over the allocation and use of coastal natural resources that can lead to the degradation of the environment, and propose alternative mechanisms to facilitate the resolution of conflicts that may arise.

Integrated coastal area management
Summary guidelines
Agriculture, forestry and fisheries
Conflict resolution

This Special is taken from "Integrated coastal area management and agriculture, forestry and fisheries: FAO guidlines", (Environment and Natural Resources Service, FAO, Rome, 1998. 256 p). The full publication is available on-line at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/W8440e/W8440e00.htm. For a printed copy, contact nadia.scialabba@fao.org

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