|Marine biological valuation of the Belgian coast|
Laporta, L. (2012). Marine biological valuation of the Belgian coast. MSc Thesis. Universiteit Gent: Gent. ISBN 9783656536734. 62 pp.
marine, biological, valuation
True awareness of the great importance and vulnerability of natural spaces and resources is at the basis of innovative, holistic approaches to management such as ecosystem-based Marine Spatial Planning (EB-MSP). Under this perspective, there is an increasing need for reliable and meaningful baseline maps to provide decision-makers with straightforward information on the intrinsic biological value of a given marine/coastal area. The aims of this work are (1) to establish a spatial biological valuation of the Belgian coastal zone, using Marine Biological Valuation methods (MBV) (Derous 2007); and (2) to explore the applications of MBV for EB-MSP under different scenarios of space-use conflict at the Belgian coast (beach nourishment and nature conservation). Biological data from 1995 to 2011 on four ecosystem components (macrobenthos, epibenthos, hyperbenthos, and avifauna) have been integrated into a single database and used to perform MBV. Despite time constraints, spatial coverage and overall data availability were surprisingly satisfactory and allowed for significant trends and patterns to be observed. Results support a seaward extension of the nature reserve of "IJzermonding" in Lombardsijde beach. Detailed analysis of areas under coastal flood risk indicates that the use of MBV maps to assist management decisions at low jurisdictional levels in the Belgian coast is positively promising. Still, for an integrative approach, MBV maps should be considered along with other criteria defined within a solid decision-support system. Further research on the applications of MBV to coastal areas is still necessary to enhance the robustness of the tool and consequently strengthen its effectiveness within spatial planning strategies, towards an integrative and ecosystem-based management of coastal areas worldwide.