Interactions between the coastal environment and the people who use its resources are still poorly understood. In the developing countries many of these people are poor. Demographic changes and economic development have increased demands on coastal resources. More people than ever are generating at least part of a livelihood from activities which directly affect, or are affected by, changes in the coastal environment.

As these pressures grow, resource-use conflicts in coastal regions could result in increased environmental degradation and social inequality. In such conditions the livelihoods of poor people will be vulnerable. Extractive uses for food, income generation, medicines and building materials and non-extractive uses for tourism continue to degrade coastal ecosystems. The widespread death of corals following global bleaching events in 1998 have further aggravated these pressures.

Although the present decade has witnessed substantial investment in environmental institutions,coastal management planning has remained largely empirical with little detailed analysis of environmental components and their reaction to natural variation or resource use. The absence of effective monitoring systems to generate baseline data against which the impacts of natural and anthropogenic changes can be measured has been a significant constraint to effective planning.

The challenges presented by these factors are huge and they will only be tackled through working in effective partnerships at all levels, but particularly between the development agencies.

This Handbook is one of the products of a successful partnership between UNESCO and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID). It attempts to match user need to the level of technology required for planning and monitoring. The information presented seeks to close the gap between managers objectives/expectations and what can be realistically achieved in an operational context. It provides clear guidance on the reliability, accuracy and cost of applications. Effective recommendations are provided to inform coastal management initiatives and projects supporting sustainable livelihoods in coastal communities.

We hope this Handbook will be a valuable reference and provide practical guidance for all who work towards the goal of the sustainable and wise use of resources in coastal regions.

Chief Natural Resources Adviser
Department for International Development


Chief, Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands