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Project Title: Integrating Support System for Managing Environmental Change and Human Impact on Tropical Coastal Ecosystems in East Asia and the Pacific

The natural and human elements of coastal zones in the East Asia and Pacific (mostly archipelagic or small island countries) are extremely vulnerable to disturbances associated with natural climate variability, especially in symphony with anthropogenic forcing. These disturbances, either as long-term pressures or short-term perturbations, impact the capacity of the coastal zone to support goods and services. Increase in environmental loads from adjacent watersheds such as nutrients and sediments are of particular concern because of their deleterious effects on coastal habitats (mangroves, seagrasses and coral reefs). Increased soil runoff and nutrient mobility is aggravated by expanded habitation and by various resource exploitation practices (agriculture, forest-cutting, industries, infrastructure) that diminish their natural retention or elimination during their downstream passage from hydrologic (river networks or underground) to hydrodynamic pathways. Therefore, the ability to detect, understand and predict changes in the coastal environment in a timely and accurate manner is crucial for management and decision-making, which seeks to address possible resource conflicts and value trade-offs. However, information and corresponding analysis tools to accomplish this forecasting task is still far from ideal.


Coastal zones contain complex interactions between social, economic and environmental systems (see Figure 1). Management of coastal resources requires consideration of these complex interactions including the impacts of use and management decisions on the overall sustainability of the coastal resource utilization. Effective management also requires collaboration between researchers, policy makers and the community. While numerous national and international organizations have already established research and monitoring programs that involve acquisition of physical, natural and socio-economic data by way of in-situ measurements, remote sensing observation and social weather surveys, most of these programs target either marine, coastal or terrestrial environments and communities or any combination, but rarely encompassing all. Thus, present investigative efforts are narrow, lacking or produce results that are incompatible for enabling understanding of interrelationships across systems. There is a need therefore to link science and decision-making stressing the continuum of expertise from basic science to applied science to policy, governance and management.

This Project aims to strengthen present and future local coastal observational (in-situ & space-based) and modelling capabilities and decision-making process by developing a region-wide, collaborative strategy for data exchange and analysis among coastal scientists and managers. The Project envisions production of user-friendly tools capable of hind-casting development patterns and for building scenarios to explore various management options.

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Last Update : 2006.12.23