ICZM-Best practice case study in Western Zeelandic-Flanders

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• Project region The project is located in the south of the Netherlands bordering Belgium (see Figure 5). It is part of the estuary of River Rhine and Schelde. The project region is called Western Zeelandic-Flanders (‘West Zeeuwsch-Vlaanderen’). According to Knuijt et al. (2000) the coastal region today can be divided into two different areas. The North Sea coast (from Cadzand to Breskens) and the Westerschelde coast (from Breskens to Hoofdplaat). The conditions on both sides are very different. The North Sea coast is characterized by beaches, dunes, nature reserves and recreation, whereas the Westerschelde coast is formed by dikes and agricultural land. Thus, an intensive versus an extensive touristic area (ibid.).

Figure 5: Project region of ‘ICZM-Western Zeelandic-Flanders’ (according to Gebiedscommissie West Zeeuwsch-Vlaanderen, 2004) • Initial problem The problem of the region can be divided into seaward and landward conditions. Concerning seaward conditions, rising seawater level is regarded as main problem (Knuijt et al., 2000). Research from 2003 hold the result that a weak link in the costal defence system is situated between Het Zwin and Breskens (MinVenW, 2003). Concerning landwards conditions, the main problem is seen in the weak development of employment in the sectors of agriculture and tourism (Gebiedscommissie West Zeeuwsch-Vlaanderen, 2004).

• Project aims The main aim of ICZM in Western Zeelandic-Flanders is the “development and enlargement of its natural capital to release an impulse for the tourist-economic sector” (Knuijt et al., 2000). This process should be coupled to a safe coastal protection integrating the most important economic and social concerns (ibid.).

• Project performance The ICZM process in Western Zeelandic-Flanders can be divided into three phases: development of an ICZM vision, development of sub-projects and execution of coastal projects (see Figure 6).

Figure 6: Three phases of ICZM in Western Zeelandic-Flanders (left row) and their associated documents/activities (right row, in boxes) explained in text form below The first phase (see Figure 6) of ICZM in Western Zeelandic-Flanders started in 2000. A project team leaded by the municipalities of Oostburg and Sluis together with a sounding board of around 40 persons articulated a vision for the coast, which resulted in an ICZM plan for the coast, namely ‘Integrated Coastal Zone Management Western Zeelandic-Flanders’ (‘Integraal Kustzone Beheer West Zeeuwsch-Vlaanderen’) (see Knuijt et al., 2000). The document constitutes a legal municipal framework for future coastal development in which coastal protection, environmental and economic enhancements are priority goals. They should be achieved by taking action primarily in the field of coastal safety in combination with recreation and tourism (ibid.). The ICZM plan sets out two main principles. First, a broadening of the coastal zone to provide space for coastal defence and recreation, and second, a zoning of the coast in calm or busy segments in order to support the development of touristic or nature conservation areas (ibid.). Based on this initial ICZM plan, five coastal sub-plans were developed which constitute the second phase of ICZM in Western Zeelandic-Flanders (see Figure 6). ‘Sustainable Coast Opening’ (‘Duurzame Kustontsluiting‘) is a further development of the main principles of the ICZM vision. It provides four priority areas of the region where several actions such as parking places, dune passages and beach accesses are presented (Knuijt et al., 2002). ‘Naturally Vital’ (‘Gebiedsplan Natuurlijk Vitaal’) is an extensive development plan for executing coastal measures. The plan aims at giving an impulse for the economic sector and enhancing spatial quality such as nature and landscape. It builds the basis for collaboration of administrations and private enterprises (Gebiedscommissie West Zeeuwsch-Vlaanderen, 2004). The other remaining three plans (S.A.I.L., Maya, and SustAccess) are embedded in the European INTERREG program (see European Commission, 2006). ‘S.A.I.L.’ (‘Schéma d’Aménagement Intégré du Litoral’) was formed in order to help managing issues affecting the coastlines and communities bordering the Southern North Sea area. The plan for Western Zeelandic-Flanders includes the opening up of the coast to visitors on foot or bike, extended parking facilities, improved accessibility, tourist development of the beachfront, and the broadening of the coastal zone via coast corridors (S.A.I.L., 2003). ‘Maya’ stands for ‘Marina and Yachting in the Lower North Sea, the Channel Area and the Irish Sea’. This plan aims at the construction of a marina at Sluis on the historic location, a lock, and a port of transit at Cadzand and the realisation of a waterway connection between this lock and the marina. The plan provides leads for urban renewal, accentuation of cultural-historical elements, nature development, recreation and tourism, as well as integral water management (Maya, 2005). Western Zeelandic-Flanders also participated in ‘SustAccess’, which stands for ‘Sustainable Accessibility between Hinterlands and Gateways around the North Sea’ (SustAccess, 2006). The major issue of this plan is to decrease the use of cars in the coastal area of the North Sea. Therein new road infrastructure should be developed to separate cars from bicycles (SustAccess, 2005). In the frame of these five sub-plans a multiplicity of projects were executed in the region (phase three), such as parking places, dune passages, beach accesses, lookout points, information centres or information panels (see Figure 6). • Project evaluation The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of ‘ICZM-Western Zeelandic-Flanders’ are displayed in the table below (see Table 3). Table 3: SWOT scheme of the project ‘ICZM-Western Zeelandic-Flanders’ SWOT Description Strengths • The pre-determination that ICZM has to be integrated in coastal defence priorities, led to precise and target-directed discussions on limited management possibilities. • Strong public and administrative support of ICZM since the problem definition (flooding and weak development of employment in tourism) came out of the region. • Project coordination group of six persons and sounding board of 40 persons were good working platform to carry ICZM into the region. • The individual engagement of several persons/administrations was fruitful referring to the forthcoming of the project. • Efficient division into three phases of ICZM, namely (1) ICZM as a vision and umbrella for the region, (2) Integration of this vision in sub-projects, and (3) execution of measures. • A multitude of measures were executed at the coast and showed dwellers and visitors of the region practical benefits of ICZM. The huge realisation of ‘Waterdunen’ functions as a regional and national ICZM eye catcher and provides an impressive showcase of ICZM’s benefits. Weakness • ‘ICZM-Western Zeelandic-Flanders’ was not purely integrative since coastal defence had priority and other sectors among the coast have to subordinate their interests. • New structures and capacities (plans, office, working places) were build-up which cost money. • Since it is concentrated on execution of ICZM measures mainly, research and assessments on ICZM were limited. • Marine coast is only considered by means of coastal security. Opportunity • Integration of ICZM in coastal defence issues can provide a straight forward approach in order to execute management options. • Regionalisation of ICZM, that means giving responsibilities and leeway to the regions, can lead to a pushing forward of ICZM. • ICZM should constitute an overall vision for a region, but not a panacea for all problems. Under this umbrella, practical ICZM measures should be executed. • Executions of measures (especially eye catching showcases) are the most important tool to carry benefits of ICZM into the region. Threat • By setting sectoral interests under the priority of coastal defence, integrative nature of ICZM is at risk. • Strong target-oriented approach holds the risk of being biased and therewith less integrative and/or participative. • Responsibility and leeway is not given to the region. Persons and administrations in power are not interested in pushing ICZM. • Funding for build-up of new structures (e.g. plans, office, and working place) is not available.