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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A technique for resource classification and capability analysis in coastal zone management Spencer, John F.


The coastal zone consists of a narrow resource complex occurring at the interface between the sea and land. It not only serves as a transition zone between the marine and terrestrial environments but is also a unique environment possessing qualities which emerge from the dynamic relationship between land and sea. Man has, throughout history, found the resources of this area to be highly desirable for a multiplicity of uses. Now, however, segments of society are expressing considerable dissatisfaction with the way coastal resources have been allocated and abused over the past decades. The unrestrained exploitation of coastal resources has resulted in serious degradation and single purpose co-optation of resources resulting in the denial of benefits from many coastal resources to different groups in society. Such conditions indicate the need to establish coastal zone management institutions which can respond to these problems by producing a mixture of goods relevant to the needs and desires of today's society while preventing future generations from being despoiled of the use of coastal resources. In order to design effective management institutions and policies which can fulfill this need, a careful and systematic analysis of coastal resources' inherent capabilities and limitations must be accomplished. This study postulates that, through the use of a methodology which integrates the evaluation of coastal resources and resource use capability with an evaluation of user resource requirements in an ecological framework, opportunities can be identified for allocated resources to various users in a way that will reduce the degradation of resources and use conflicts. To conduct this study it was necessary to develop a system for classifying and evaluating coastal resources for different uses. The literature regarding coastal resource systems was examined to provide a basis for designing a classification scheme. Additionally, three current resource evaluation techniques were studied for procedures relevant to evaluating coastal resources for a variety of uses. The evaluation procedure used in the study represents a synthesis of parts of these techniques. The technique was applied in a case study to provide a foundation for evaluating its applicability to planning the use of coastal resources. The coast of Whatcom County, Washington, was selected as the case study area. The results of the study were evaluated in a scenario comparing the existing resources-use situation and the county comprehensive plan in the study area to the alternative patterns of resource use revealed by the capability analysis. The classification and evaluation of the coast of Whatcom. County demonstrated that the inherent capabilities and distribution of coastal resources provides an opportunity to design alternative patterns of use allocations. Analysis of user environmental impacts indicated that these patterns could be selected for their utility in reducing user conflicts and the degradation of coastal resources. In addition, the classification and evaluation of the Whatcom County coast illustrated that the technique could be useful for identifying and defining the nature of prospective resource use problems that will affect the design of coastal management institutions.

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