Welcome to PAP/RAC Mediterranean Coastal Alert! This newsletter is regularly updated monthly. It contains abstracts of selected current articles and archives on various environmental themes, in particular those dealing with all aspects of coastal issues. The selection is made from the articles published in the leading international scientific journals. This newsletter is an excellent way of keeping you updated with coastal studies and processes.
The legal establishment of protected areas is often associated with a situation of conflict arising between conservation and other human activities in particular spaces. This is primarily due to the fact that protected areas law requires changes in the behaviour of resource users. Conservation conflicts arising from the establishment of protected areas are well documented in the social science literature and attempts are made to find ways to reduce such conflicts. Yet, what of cases in which the establishment of protected areas serves to officialise existing sustainable practices and may contain an element of future proofing? Do they still generate practices of resistance and conflict? These questions are answered in this paper comparing two case studies where the authors conducted primary qualitative research: the designation of new Marine Conservation Zones under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 in the Isles of Scilly (South West of England) and the designation of a new Special Area of Conservation under Council Directive 92/43/EEC (the Habitats Directive) in Barra (Scottish Outer Hebrides). Both protected areas are highly unlikely to impose changes in local sea-users’ behaviour, as in both cases they validate existing practices and are future proofing, in the sense that they offer tools that can be used to minimize the effects of potential future shocks and stresses, presently unknown. Yet, while in Scilly the new Marine Conservation Zones have been perceived as a positive addition to the seascape, in Barra the Special Area of Conservation has been heavily contested by the local community. The islanders' different perspectives towards protected areas law can be described as divergent ‘legal consciousness’. ‘Legal consciousness’ is a socio-legal concept concerned with the ways in which the law is experienced, interpreted and re-shaped by ordinary people. In our case studies, legal consciousness is a dependent variable, being the product of three main causes: history, power relationships between regulators and regulatees and risk.
Source: M. Pieraccini and E. Cardwell (2015); “Divergent perceptions of new marine protected areas: Comparing legal consciousness in Scilly and Barra, UK”, Ocean & Coastal Management; Volume 119, January 2016, Pages 21–29; Received: 21 May 2015; Received in Revised Form: 20 September 2015; Accepted: 27 September 2015; Available Online: 22 October 2015 under DOI:10.1016/J.OCECOAMAN.2015.09.016
Improving food security and environmental conservation should be the main targets of innovative farming systems. Conservation agriculture (CA), based on minimum tillage, crop residue retention and crop rotations has been proposed against poor agricultural productivity and soil degradation. This paper discusses the applicability and potential benefits of CA in Rwanda under the unfolding climate change scenario. The potential and benefits from CA may vary with rainfall regime. In high rainfall areas (for example North and West of Rwanda), the soils are susceptible to soil erosion and face fertility decline while in low rainfall areas (for example East of Rwanda) crops fail due to sub-optimal water use efficiency. Furthermore, low organic carbon content lower fertilisers response and government targets of increasing production through Crop Intensification Program, is limited. It has been shown that CA can: reduce soil loss from 35.5 to 14.5 t/ha/year, have 50-70% greater infiltration and increase 42% of organic carbon. Long-term analysis using Agricultural Production System Simulator showed that CA can increase yield from 3.6 to 4.4t/ha in areas having >770 mm. Based on the evidence from regional research, CA has a good potential for climate change adaptation in both high and low rainfall areas of Rwanda. However, decreased yield observed in high rainfall areas, increased labour requirements when herbicides are not used and lack of mulch due to priority given to feeding of livestock constrained CA adoption. We conclude that there is a need for critical assessment under which ecological and socio economic conditions CA is suited for smallholder farming in Rwanda.
Source: M. Kabirigi, B. Musana, F. Ngetich, J. Mugwe, A. Mukuralinda and N. L. Nabahungu (2015); “Applicability of conservation agriculture for climate change adaptation in Rwanda’s situation”, Journal of Soil Science and Environmental Management, 6(9), 241-248; Received: 13 June 2015; Accepted: 27 July 2015; Published: 1 September 2015 under DOI: 10.5897/JSSEM15.0508
The rate at which coastal sea level is expected to rise or fall is of considerable interest to coastal residents and managers who view changes on the time scale of a 30-year mortgage. Analysis of historical records at North American tide stations provides evidence of recent nonlinear sea-level change at this scale using relative mean sea-level (RMSL) observations. RMSL tracks local inundation risk directly without the need to correct an accepted worldwide geocentric measure—e.g., global mean sea-level rise—with locally estimated vertical rate adjustments. Published RMSL linear trends provide essential information but are routinely compared between tide stations with widely varying record lengths, thereby obfuscating nonlinear change (acceleration or deceleration) over a specific period of time. Here monthly averaged RMSL data from 45 U.S. tide stations and one Canadian tide station are analyzed from 1969 through 2014, extending a definitive period of acceleration previously noted along the U.S. NE Coast. Using a Bayesian approach to determine the joint probability of paired regression parameters for RMSL quadratic trends, probabilities for forward projections to the year 2050 based on these trends suggest continued sea-level rise will be aided by acceleration presently on the order of 0.1 to 0.2 mm/y2 in the U.S. NE and Gulf Coast regions. Deceleration ranging from −0.1 to −0.4 mm/y2 is likely to reinforce falling sea levels at specific locations on the U.S. West Coast in the near term.
Source: J. D. Boon and M. Mitchell (2015); “Nonlinear Change in Sea Level Observed at North American Tide Stations”, Journal of Coastal Research: Volume 31, Issue 6: pp. 1295 – 1305; Received: 27 February 2015; Accepted: 3 April 2015; Received: 13 May 2015; DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-15-00041.1
Coastal areas are among the most biologically productive aquatic systems worldwide, but face strong and variable anthropogenic pressures. Few studies have, however, addressed the temporal development of coastal ecosystems in an integrated context. This study represents an assessment of the development over time in 13 coastal ecosystems in the Baltic Sea region during the past two decades. The study covers between two to six trophic levels per system and time-series dating back to the early 1990s. We applied multivariate analyses to assess the temporal development of biological ecosystem components and relate these to potential driving variables associated with changes in climate, hydrology, nutrient status, and fishing pressure. Our results show that structural change often occurred with similar timing in the assessed coastal systems. Moreover, in 10 of the 13 systems, a directional development of the ecosystem components was observed. The variables representing key ecosystem components generally differed across systems, due to natural differences and limitation to available data. As a result of this, the correlation between the temporal development of the biological components in each area and the driving variables assessed was to some extent area-specific. However, change in nutrient status was a common denominator of the variables most often associated with changes in the assessed systems. Our results, additionally, indicate existing strengths as well as future challenges in the capacity of currently available monitoring data to support integrated assessments and the implementation of an integrated ecosystem-based approach to the management of the Baltic Sea coastal ecosystems.
Source: J. Olsson, M. T. Tomczak, H. Ojaveer, A. Gårdmark, A. Põllumäe, B. Müller-Karulis, D Ustups, G. E. Dinesen, H. Peltonen, I. Putnis, L. Szymanek, M. Simm, O. Heikinheimo, P. Gasyukov, P. Axe and L. Bergström (2015); “Temporal development of coastal ecosystems in the Baltic Sea over the past two decades”, ICES J. Mar. Sci. (November/December 2015) 72 (9): 2539-2548; Received: 1 April 2015; Revision Received: 13 July 2015; Accepted: 17 July 2015; First Published Online: 12 August 2015 under DOI:10.1093/icesjms/fsv143