The coast is prized as a playground in which leisure as well as business activities can be enjoyed. The Coreplan project will determine how authorities can manage our coastal zone while taking into account the value of nature’s benefits and safeguarding various interests.
The aim of this three-year project is to gain new knowledge about how benefits obtained from the natural environment can be better valued and incorporated in planning work. We want to study solutions for a more integrated and sustainable management of coastal zone areas. We are particularly interested in researching whether it can be of benefit to identify and determine the value of ecosystem services as a tool in coastal zone planning.
Benefits obtained from the natural environment: Ecosystem services
The term “ecosystem services” refers to the benefits human beings obtain from the natural environment, for example, the provisioning of food, regulation of climate, purification of water, and experiences in and enjoyment of nature. Our purpose is to show that, as well as having an intrinsic value, nature contributes highly specific services which are of value to us.
The task of placing a value on these services, however, is subject to a number of ethical considerations. For example, is it appropriate to assign a value to nature-related experiences, cultural heritage or biodiversity? We also need to consider the fact that assessing the value of a number of ecosystem services can be difficult. Examples of these include rock carvings, recreational areas and cultural landscapes. For this reason, a key part of the Coreplan project is to assess the suitability of this approach to coastal zone planning.
Coastal regions in flux
Much of the urban and industrial growth in the world today takes place in coastal areas. New ways of using, protecting and harvesting from coastal areas have created conflict between different interest groups in local, national and global contexts. Similarly, climate and environmental changes mean that needs have to be met in new ways.
Coreplan is concerned with assessing current and future challenges in coastal management to see if systems can be improved by incorporating the ecosystem services concept at the planning stage.
Based on studies of the planning processes used in various regions, we will develop scenarios in which ecosystem services form the starting point for coastal zone management. In a system of this kind, we will combine the preferences, values and practical knowledge of the interest groups with societal objectives and scientific knowledge. This type of system will make it easier for decision-makers to take the interests of all parties into consideration when making their decisions.
Studying selected regions
We have chosen to study coastal zone management and planning in the Troms and Hordaland regions which have recently completed planning processes for their coastal areas. We will examine the challenges peculiar to these areas and how their management has been organized. In addition, we will examine how the coastal zone is currently being managed in British Columbia, Canada, where planning is organized in a completely different way from Norway.
Social scientists, economists and biologists from the following partners are cooperating on the Coreplan project: The Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research (Nofima), the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU), the Norwegian College of Fishery Science and the Centre for Sami Studies at the Arctic University of Norway (UiT), and the University of Ottawa, Canada.
The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway. The final report is due in 2018.