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International Workshop on the Rehabilitation of Degraded Coastal Systems

Phuket Marine Biological Center, PO Box 60, Phuket 83000, Thailand
19-24 January 1998

Organised by:

Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC)
PO Box 60, Phuket 83000
Centre for Tropical Coastal Management Studies (CTCMS) &Tropical Marine Science Initiative (TMSI)
Department of Marine Sciences and Coastal Management National University of Singapore
University of Newcastle10 Kent Ridge Crescent
Newcastle upon Tyne SINGAPORE 119260

The workshop had a primary focus on Asia but was open to individuals from other parts of the world. About 80 participants attended the 4 days of the workshop and two additional days of excursions, one in the middle of the workshop and one at the end.

The international workshop was focused around four themes. The primary focus of the workshop was on Rehabilitation of degraded coastal systems and two and a half days of the meeting were devoted to papers on this subject. The remaining one and a half days were devoted to three ancillary workshop sessions:

  1. Impediments to the implementation of integrated coastal management and potential solutions,
  2. Priorities for coastal management training, and
  3. Priorities for coastal management research.

Abstracts of papers presented

1. Rehabilitation of degraded coastal systems

Papers were invited on the socio-economic and ecological impacts of degradation of coastal systems including mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs, salt marshes and dune systems and in particular on strategies (biological, engineering, socio-economic) to rehabilitate these systems or mitigate impacts.

One goal of this theme of the workshop was to bring together key research on habitat restoration in a range of tropical habitats at one meeting to stimulate transfer of ideas from one area to another. Another was to evaluate critically the effectiveness of rehabilitation and to provide a summary of the state of the art in Asia.

There were a range of questions and critical issues which the workshop sought to address. They included:

How do the particular ecological parameters of impacted systems (e.g. dynamited reef, clear-cut mangrove forest, abandoned shrimp pond) affect what can be achieved in terms of restoration and the likely timescales of recovery?
What are the precise objectives of restoration projects and what institutional, socio-political and economic factors should be taken into account when planning rehabilitation projects?
How successful have restoration projects been and which techniques (scientific and management) have contributed to success? What lessons have been learnt from failures?
What are the criteria (ecological, political, economic, social, legislative) against which success is / can be measured?
Which functions of degraded coastal systems can feasibly be restored and which cannot?
Is coastal habitat restoration cost-effective (or could funding devoted to rehabilitation be spent to greater benefit in other ways)? Is the perceived ability to rehabilitate/restore habitats in mitigation, increasing the threat to existing undegraded habitats?

Outputs from the workshop are being channelled through two peer-reviewed Special Issues of journals. Firstly, there is a Special Issue of the international journal Marine Pollution Bulletin focusing on Rehabilitation of coastal systems which was published in August 1999. Secondly, there is a Special Issue of the Phuket Marine Biological Center Bulletin which is also due out in 1999.

2. Impediments to the implementation of integrated coastal management and potential solutions

(Session leaders: Prof. Peter Burbridge, Centre for Tropical Coastal Management Studies, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK; Dr Hilconida Calumpong, Centre of Excellence in Coastal Resources Management, Silliman University, PHILIPPINES)

The Session Leaders provided an introduction to stimulate debate and the workshop participants then split into 4 working groups to address 1) Communication issues, 2) economic and financial issues, 3) institutional issues, and 4) the problem of "integration".

3. Priorities for coastal management training

(Session leaders: Dr. Chua Thia-Eng, Coastal Management Center, Manila, PHILIPPINES; Dr. Alasdair Edwards, Centre for Tropical Coastal Management Studies, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)

Background: To implement coastal management plans and to facilitate local training of coastal managers, personnel trained to varying levels of expertise are required. Different forms of coastal management training will be appropriate to government officials, NGO personnel, environmental consultancy professionals, university or school teachers, community-based organisation extension workers, etc., depending on both their seniority and level of technical involvement in coastal management.

This workshop session built on earlier international workshops and, taking the general principles developed in these, aimed to identify specific coastal management training needs and the ways and means by which the individuals, partnerships, networks and institutions present at the Phuket meeting might collaborate to address these specific needs.

To structure this workshop, an introduction by the Session Leaders summarised the key outputs of the previous workshops. The workshop sought to identify specific coastal management training needs in individual countries and outline proposals (or note actions taken) to address these needs. As a first output a web page to provide links to institutions offering training in coastal management has been started. At present Master's courses are covered but is intended to cover Bachelor's courses and short-courses as well.

4. Priorities for coastal management research

(Session leaders: Prof. Barbara Brown, Centre for Tropical Coastal Management Studies, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK; Assoc. Prof. Chou Loke Ming, Tropical Marine Science Initiative, National University of Singapore, SINGAPORE; Dr Hansa Chansang, Phuket Marine Biological Center, THAILAND)

Background: Much coastal research has been curiosity driven rather than coastal management problem led. This often leads to a situation where scientific or socio-economic questions critical to developing a coastal management plan cannot be answered because the underpinning science or social or economic studies have not been done. The lack of underpinning science is often the most difficult problem to solve as gathering the necessary data may be hugely expensive and take an inordinate amount of time.

This workshop session sought to identify priority areas of coastal management where critical underpinning knowledge was lacking and to consider ways and means by which the individuals, partnerships, networks and institutions present at the Phuket workshop might collaborate to tackle these knowledge gaps. The workshop split into three working groups dealing with 1) generic research priorities, 2) reef rehabiliation research priorities, and 3) mangrove and shrimp pond rehabilitation research priorites.

© B. Goh and A.J.Edwards, 1998