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Integrated Coastal Zone Planning

What is integrated coastal zone planning?

We work, play, and live in the “coastal zone” of Clayoquot Sound – the area where land and sea meet. Kayak guides take their clients to beach campsites. Government agencies award shoreline tenures for industries such as fish farming. First Nations carry out traditional economic and cultural activities. Community groups map and monitor the condition of habitats. These are only a few of the activities that occur every day in the coastal zone.

Many changes are in store for our coastal zone. First Nations are asserting their rights and title to coastal territories and resources. Many governmental and community groups believe that shellfish aquaculture will be a major avenue of future economic development. Tourism activities continue to increase and expand into all corners of Clayoquot Sound. Sea otters are repopulating the area. These and many other trends could have big implications for the health of our communities. We need to manage our coastal zone to ensure long-term community benefits – economic, social, recreational, and spiritual.

Although there is a lot happening in our coastal zone, so far we have not taken a comprehensive look at all of these activities together. How do these activities compete with each other for space and resources? How can we accommodate them without harming the environment? Jurisdictions in the coastal zone are held by a large number of federal, provincial, and local governments, and coordination among these parties is notoriously poor.

An integrated coastal zone plan can help to address these problems. Integrated planning has been underway in our forests for many years (i.e. the Clayoquot Sound Scientific Panel and the Central Region Board Watershed Plans). The communities of Clayoquot sound would benefit from doing the same for our coastal zone.

Why would we want an integrated coastal zone plan?

Economic development is a key priority for the communities of Clayoquot Sound. Yet we want to ensure that development will be sustainable, conserving resources and ecosystems over the long term. We also want to ensure that economic development will not compromise the many non-commercial uses that our communities make of the coastal zone, from First Nations cultural uses to everyone’s recreational uses. An integrated coastal zone plan can help the communities of Clayoquot Sound by:

  • compiling the basic information we need to develop economically and socially in a sustainable manner. A coastal plan would provide guidance to tourism operations, aquaculture investment, residential developers, conservation groups, and many others.

  • providing greater certainty for allocation of land and water uses that might otherwise be in competition. In addition to commercial uses, we can improve security of local and non-commercial uses. At the same time, a coastal plan would need to ensure that First Nations treaty negotiations are not prejudiced by its outcomes.

  • integrating First Nations traditional management systems (ha-houlthee) with technical planning approaches. This aspect would strengthen both First Nations communities and the effectiveness of the plan.

  • developing new relationships among local communities and government agencies that will implement the plan and manage coastal zone activities over the long term.

In other words, an integrated coastal zone plan is a key step in developing healthy, sustainable communities in Clayoquot Sound.

How do we do it?

A successful integrated coastal plan in Clayoquot Sound will require (1) collaborative partnerships among local and governmental parties and (2) information and the tools to manage it. Local organizations such as the Central Region Board, the West Coast Vancouver Island Aquatic Management Board, and the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust are currently working to develop the necessary relationships and information. The process will need to involve all relevant parties – First Nations, local governments, federal and provincial governments, resource users, and the general public. Together, we will consider and plan for the full range of knowledge and values in the coastal zone. By working together in a holistic manner, the communities of Clayoquot Sound can build a foundation for sustainable development in the coming years. This process will be challenging, but it is essential to the well-being of our region.

Here are some resources about integrated coastal planning in B.C. and Clayoquot Sound: Information resources: Coastal zone planning »

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Last modified: October 25, 2004 | Contact: web@clayoquotalliance.uvic.ca