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Facing the future: Conservation as a precursor for building coastal territorial cohesion and resilience

Goussard, Jean‐Jacques, Ducrocq, Mathieu
Aquatic conservation 2017 v.27 Suppl S1 pp. 151-161
acidification, assets, climate change, coasts, cohesion, conservation areas, ecosystem management, ecosystems, engineering, habitats, hydrodynamics, infrastructure, planning, risk reduction, sea level, surface temperature, weather, Western Africa
On a global scale, most of the coastal zones in the world are undergoing rapid and accelerating changes. This coastal syndrome combines two major trends: one linked to the growth of coastal populations, habitat, transport and industrial infrastructures (assets); the other linked to the influence of climate change and its effects in terms of sea‐level rise, increased frequency of extreme weather events, acidification and increase in ocean surface temperature, both affecting the health of coastal ecosystems. This situation is also reflected in the increase in coastal engineering solutions, which have significant impacts on coastal hydrodynamics and natural ecosystems. This extremely dynamic context calls for an evolution in conservation and spatial planning strategies in order to better anticipate changes that may affect not only the sustainability of both the distribution and health of natural ecosystems, but also the relevance of conservation efforts. Marine and coastal protected areas help preserve ecological services, and reduce the risks faced by coastal communities. Therefore, it can be argued that the effectiveness of these conservation units will depend on the ability, (i) to take into account their territorial context, and also (ii) to base the management decisions on a prospective and sufficiently anticipated (future‐oriented) approach. MPA management must be proactive to cope with such rapid changes. The Nexus approach, promoted by the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management ‐ coastal ecosystem group (CEM/CEG), places marine and coastal spatial planning as a key integrative element linking conservation, adaptation to climate change and coastal risk reduction, and as a part of no‐regret adaptation strategies. This paper highlights the main factors that characterize current coastal dynamics, and then briefly presents three future‐oriented pilot operations, implemented in Western Africa at different scales. These operations illustrate how MPAs must become structuring elements for the organization and development of coastal territories if they are to contribute to the resilience of coastal systems and to ensure their own long‐term sustainability.