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Maritime Forum

Map of the Week – Integrated Coastal Zone Management

The Map of the Week presents information on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) projects across Europe. ICZM is a process for the management of the coast using an integrated approach, regarding all aspects of the coastal zone, including...


February 2nd, this year, saw the first celebration of World Wetlands Day as a United Nations International Day. This day marks the anniversary of the Convention on Wetlands, which was adopted as an international treaty in 1971. The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”. The Convention uses a broad definition of wetlands. It includes all lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves and other coastal areas, coral reefs, and all human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt pans.

Wetlands are vital for many reasons. They provide a wide range of “ecosystem services” including freshwater supply, food and building materials, biodiversity, flood control, groundwater recharge, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. [1,2] However, nearly 90% of the world’s wetlands have been degraded since the 1700s, and we are losing wetlands three times faster than forest [2]. Since 1970, 35% of the world’s wetlands have been lost. Human activities that lead to loss of wetlands include drainage and infilling for agriculture and construction, pollution, overfishing and overexploitation of resources, invasive species and climate change. [3] Therefore, the theme of World Wetlands Day 2022 was ‘Wetlands Action for People and Nature’, highlighting the importance of actions to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands for humans and planetary health. [2]

Coastal wetlands - saltwater and brackish water wetlands located in coastal areas - provide natural defence against coastal flooding and storm surges by wave energy dissipation and erosion reduction, helping to stabilise shore sediments. The restoration of coastal wetlands is thus increasingly considered as measures for climate adaptation. [4] The European Union Policy framework in place to address the impacts of climate change to coastal areas include cross-cutting instruments, such as Integrated Coastal Zone Management and Maritime Spatial Planning. [5] It is important that implementation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management takes into account the importance of wetlands, their conservation and their restoration. Dive into the Map of the Week to learn more about Integrated Coastal Zone Management projects!

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The data in this map are provided by the European project OURCOAST.