Coastal Management

Project Mentors: 
Georgina Mace
Steve Albon

Environmental and ecological economics and management

Project Leader: Prof Kerry Turner CBE, University of East Anglia

The Coastal Management project has now ended. Here is a summary of the findings; the project report will be available soon.

Key findings

Coastal zones play an important role in environmental life support and quality, as well as contributing to economic, social and cultural aspects of human society and its wellbeing.

Management of coastal areas poses a difficult challenge because of the constant changes from land and sea that these areas are subject to.

Recent thinking has emphasized the need to manage our coasts in a more comprehensive and flexible way, with due regard to the need to better conserve natural habitats in their own right, while also seeking to maximize the socio-economic and cultural benefits that humans derive from them.

Coastal areas supply a wide range of so-called ‘ecosystem services’ from food supply to flood protection and recreation/amenity opportunities. These services provide significant human well-being benefits, only some of which can be expressed in monetary terms.

Project aims

This project aimed to better define, quantify and value coastal ecosystem services and benefits; and to distinguish between the ‘stock’ position i.e. the available amount of coastal ecosystem services at a given point in time and the ‘flow’ position i.e. the incremental changes in the supply of services over time.

Poilcy context

The policy context for coastal management options is currently dominated by legislation such as for example, the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), with its central objective of the maintenance of ‘Good Environmental Quality Status’ within coastal and marine waters. The findings of this research project will contribute to the more detailed implementation of the MSFD and related policies based on spatial planning and marine protected areas

Why is the coast important?

Together, the coast, where the land meets the sea, and the marine environment, provides us with many very valuable benefits, including supporting wildlife, tourism, leisure pursuits and economic activities such as tourism and fishing.

Some of these benefits, such as fish, beach recreation and other tourism pursuits, are easily recognisable, but others are less evident and these include the sea as a sink for storing pollutants and carbon which would otherwise contribute to increased climate change.

About the Valuing Nature Network Coastal Management project

The Coastal Management project has set up a network of people from many different research areas and is trying to get a better understanding of the importance of the coastal and marine environment to people, for example, in terms of jobs, health and recreation and amenity.

The way the analysis is undertaken is based on an idea called “ecosystem services” which recognises that, among other things, we rely on the environment for a diverse range of benefits which support and enhance our daily lives. While it is possible to have environments without people and economic systems, our society and economy cannot operate without sound environmental foundations.

The ecosystem services concept places monetary values on many of the benefits we derive from a ‘healthy’ environment and therefore also indicates the costs we face if we fail to sustain our environment adequately. The use of monetary estimates is one way of emphasising the importance of the environment within a political process dominated by financial concerns and the ongoing need to make often difficult trade- offs between competing demands for taxpayers revenue.

November 2012 - invitation to feeback on habitat and species matrices

The team has recently updated matrices of ecosystem services related to different marine habitats of conservation importance and are now looking for expert opinion to verify associations between marine species and habitats and their links to different ecosystem services.

The main research questions are:

  • How are ecosystem service concepts built into policy relating to marine protected areas in different devolved jurisdictions?
  • What specific services do protected features generate?
  • How will Marine Protected Areas management affect the output of ecosystem services from sites?
  • Do we have fit for purpose tools to measure flows of and changes in services?


The matrices were originally developed for the English Marine Conservation Zone process (Fletcher et al., 2012), and the team has now included the designated features of the Welsh and Scottish Marine Conservation Zone processes as well as the EU Special Areas of Conservation features; for both habitats and species. The list of habitats and species are defined by the nature conservation designations. View the matrices and provide feedback here.

Download the latest project talks below:


JulianAndrews_talk_26April12.pdf414.4 KB
Kerry Turner talk_Coastal Management_March 2012.pdf282.3 KB
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