Part 2: Issues in Sustainable Development

Oceans & Seas                                       

SummaryOceans and Seas

Coastal and marine ecosystems provide ecosystem services such as shoreline protection and the harvest of natural resources, especially fish. Mangrove forests and coral reefs play key roles in the marine ecosystem because they serve as nurseries for young fish. Both mangrove forests and coral reefs, in addition to other coastal ecosystems, are under threat from coastal pollution.

Main Idea

Coastal and marine ecosystems are fragile ecosystems which provide critical services

Key Concepts

      • Ecosystem services of coral reefs
      • Ecosystem services of mangrove forests
      • Coastal pollution
      • Overfishing


Knowledge of:

      • Ecosystem services of coral reefs and mangrove forests
      • Coastal pollution
      • Threat from overfishing

Ability to

      • describe the purpose and benefits of Marine Protected Areas

Core Readings

  1. Coastal and Marine Environments
    Summary of ecological importance of coastal areas (2 pages)
  2. UN Oceans Atlas, “Coastal and Marine Habitats” and “Ecosystems”
    Definition of an ecosystem with focus on marine and coastal ecosystems and graphics of global extents of mangrove forests and coral reefs (2 pages)
  3. In the Front Line: Shoreline protection and other ecosystem services
    Overview of ecosystem services provided by mangroves and coral reefs and the threats they face (13 pages)
    1. “Threats,” pages 9-11
      Habitat destruction, global warming, disease
    2. Introduction to “Regulating services – shoreline protection,”
      pages 14-17
      Some coastal protection from storms
    3. “Other Ecosystem Services,” pages 18-20
      Fisheries, tourism, pharmaceuticals, mangrove products, and the carbon cycle
    4. “Natural recovery – or rehabilitation and restoration,”
      pages 23-25
      Discussion of natural and human coastal restoration

Sustainability Strategies

  1. Protection of East African Reef Fisheries
    Historical results of closing coastal areas to fishing (1 page)
  2. Marine Protected Areas
    Marine Protected Areas to protect reefs and restore fish populations
    (1 page)

Supplemental Readings

  1. Aquatic biodiversity
    Definitions of types of aquatic ecosystems (1 page)
  2. Mangroves of East Africa
    Detailed information on mangrove forest ecology, threats faced, and efforts towards conservation; includes both regional summary and country-by-country analysis (26 pages)
  3. Africa Environment Outlook 2, Chapter 5: Coastal and Marine Environments
    Graphics on fish catches, high coastal population, comparison of development opportunities with environmental costs for Africa and African subregions (41 pages)
  4. Global Environment Outlook 3, Chapter 2: State of the Environment and Policy Retrospective: 1972–2002: Coastal and marine areas, “Global Overview” and “Coastal and marine areas: Africa,” pages 180-190
    Good explanation of the problems which come under the heading “Oceans and Seas:” traditional concerns were pollution and overfishing. Habitat destruction is a newer concern. Health concerns related to marine pollution; eutrophication; overfishing problems (11 pages)
  5. In the Front Line: Shoreline protection and other ecosystem services
    Sections not included in the core reading include valuation of ecosystem services and rehabilitation programs in the wake of natural disasters

    (36 pages)
  6. Global Environment Outlook 4, Chapter 4: Water, “Global Overview,” pages 116-154
    Good overview and explanation of trends including pollution, overfishing, habitat destruction and health concerns; opportunities and Africa-specific information throughout (39 pages)  

Assignment Questions

  1. Oceans and Seas: Summarize the definition of an ecosystem from the Ocean Atlas reading. Why is it important to understand the operation of ecosystems in their entirety, rather than just studying individual species?
  2. Oceans and Seas: Discuss the ecological importance of mangrove forests and coral reefs. What particular human activities threaten these coastal ecosystems?
  3. Oceans and Seas: Choose one of the management tools explained in In the Frontline. How does this tool reflect an ecosystem approach to environmental management?