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Towards a new Integrated Beach Management System: The Ecosystem-Based Management System for Beaches

Sardá, Rafael ; Valls, Josep Francesc ; Pintó, Josep ; Ariza, E. ; Lozoya, J. P. ; Fraguell, Ross, M. ; Martí, Carolina ; Rucabado, Josep ;  Ramis, Juan;  Jimenez, José, A. Ocean and Coastal Management xxx : 1-11 (2015)  DIGITAL.CSIC

Massive use of beaches has forced traditional management of these systems to focus on the service offer to users. Consequently, human activity and behavior prevailed over other biological and physical processes and functions. Mirroring this tendency, the use of Performance Awards (Blue Flag) and Environmental/Quality Management Systems (ISO 14001, EMAS, and Q of Quality) were popularized as standards of environmental quality. In parallel to this process, recent international coastal and marine policies have emphasized the need to develop sustainable strategies for implementing the principles of the Ecosystem Approach into management with the overarching goal to maintain ecosystem integrity while enabling the sustainable use of ecosystem goods and services in systems under management. As Performance Awards and Environmental/Quality Management Systems do not follow the Ecosystem Approach, an Ecosystem-Based Management System for beaches (EBMS-Beaches) is introduced to overcome this issue. The EBMS-Beaches is intended as a formal standard framework that add new aspects not considered in a classical beach management process by the introduction of the principles of the Ecosystem Approach, between them: a) a clear vision-driven process; b) a holistic approach from a geographical perspective; c) pressure analysis and institutional coordination inside clear participatory planning; d) use of risk management techniques in planning; e) the ecosystem service concept as the central piece of the system; f) use of the DPSWR as accountable framework of indicators, g) desired vision based on state indicators and using BQI partial indices; and h) timely participation by local population. The EBMS is structured along three pillars (managerial, informative and participatory pillars) working in an adaptive management way. Based on these three pillars, existing management practices can be standardized into a viable, systematic means of implementing, in an integrated way, the new international policies for beach social-ecological systems. An initial experience of EBMS implementation in a particular beach (S’Abanell beach, Girona-Catalonia, Northwestern Mediterranean) has been initiated and it is presented.