New book on integrated management of the river Cetina watershed

23/01/2001

UNEP/MAP/PAP: River Cetina Watershed and the Adjacent Coastal Area: environmental and socio-economic profile. Split, Priority Actions Programme, 2000.

The Priority Actions Programme, a regional activity centre of the Mediterranean Action Plan (the UNEP implementing structure of the Barcelona Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean), has recently published the results of an environmental and socio-economic study covering the river Cetina catchment in Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. This study is remarkable for several reasons that are close to some of the Convention on Wetland's main concerns.

Probably for the first time ever, a regional development and planning study links integrated coastal zone management issues with similar approaches covering the relevant hinterland. Starting from the Cetina river mouth on the Adriatic Sea, a particular ecosystem of the adjacent coastal area, that includes significant marine channels and an important archipelago, the study also covers the ecetina-book.jpg (39229 bytes)ntire catchment basin of the river. Ecological aspects of water and natural resource management planning, combined with socio-economic aspects and an analysis of the institutional and legal framework are covered. This is undertaken, as far as possible, in a bilateral context, covering both the Croatian and Herzegovina regions covered by the river catchment. The study identifies the pressures on the environment, river-coast interactions and basic elements for the sustainable development of the watershed. It may well become a useful model for regional development planning for shared watersheds and wetlands in other parts of the world, and most notably also for the nearby Neretva watershed, equally shared by Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. The lower Neretva area is currently benefiting from a support by the Ramsar Small Grants Fund.

-- reviewed by Tobias Salathé, Ramsar Regional Coordinator for Europe


Reprint of the book's Foreword

Coastal areas have been recognised as most valuable areas in many countries. Apart from being environmentally sensitive and highly productive, the coastal areas are also attractive for human population and, therefore, for economic development. Sixty percent of the world's population lives within 60 km of the coastlines, and this figure is forecasted to rise to 75% within the next three decades. In order to address a complex natural system and interactions between human activities and natural environment, during 1990s, the need for an integrated approach to coastal area management was recognised. Only in this manner, environmental, social, economic, institutional, financial, legislative and other elements could be identified and incorporated into sustainable development.

River basins have been a unit for management of freshwater resources, which are indispensable for human life, economic development and maintenance of ecosystems. River basin management, originally initiated to address the management of a single resource, freshwater, is now naturally extending its scope to an integrated approach and thus incorporating environmental, socio-economic and institutional elements to achieve multiple objectives.

Recognising the physical, environmental, land-use and socio-economic linkages and interactions between the river basins and associated coastal areas, the Priority Actions Programme Regional Activity Centre (PAP/RAC) of the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) initiated a number of joint actions in utilising and protecting resources and the environment of river basins and associated coastal areas in an integrated manner. To this end, the first step taken was the preparation of the "Conceptual Framework and Planning Guidelines for Integrated Coastal Area and River Basin Management", published in 1999 by UNEP and PAP/RAC.

In order to demonstrate usefulness of the Integrated Coastal Area and River Basin Management (ICARM) approach and guidelines contained in this publication, a pilot project was designed for the River Cetina watershed and its associated coastal areas (Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina), including the islands in Croatia. At the first phase of the project, the environmental and socio-economic profile of the River Cetina watershed and the associated coastal area has been prepared. Thc Profile was prepared through a series of meetings of experts and was finalised through stakeholder consultations. Thc document reflects a need for all the relevant stakeholders to recognise environmental and socio-economic linkages between the River watershed and the associated coastal area by drawing their attention to possible consequences of the haphazard and unguided future development of the area.

Thc Profile will be followed by an interim document that will assess a number of development options for thc Cetina River watershed and coastal area, particularly with respect to possible future environmental impacts according to the development options. In the final phase of the project, all thc relevant stakeholders would be included (i.e., political actors, state/public institutions, the most important economic actors and thc local population).

We hope that the Profile will succeed to show how the ICARM concept can be actually applied to the specific environmental conditions of thc River Cetina and its associated coastal areas.

Klaus Töpfer
Executive Director
United Nations Environment Programme

Ivica Trumbic
Director
Priority Actions Programme
Regional Activity Centre

Kraj Sv. Ivana 11
P.O. Box 74
HR-21000 Split, Croatia
pap@gradst.hr
http://www.pap-thecoastcentre.org

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