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Biodiversity of the coastal zone

Coastal areas are exceptionally productive environments, rich in natural resources, biological diversity and with a high potential for commercial activity.

The importance of biodiversity in the coastal zone can be demonstrated by 8 out of the 40 EU listed priority habitats of wild fauna and flora falling into the coastal habitat. Approximately a third of the EU's wetlands are located on the coast as well as more than 30% of the Special Protected Areas designated under the Directive for the conservation of wild birds. The reproduction and nursery grounds of most fish and shellfish species of economic value also comes from this area, which accounts for almost half of the jobs in the fisheries sector (see EC, 1997).

Pressure on coastal biodiversity

Coastal areas are increasingly vulnerable to stresses from both human activities and the forces of nature. The complexity of human activities, natural systems and ownership in the coastal zone, requires an integrated management scheme to allocate coastal resources efficiently and minimize environmental degradation. Choices have to be made between competing uses and limits of resource exploitation if escalating conflicts and resource degradation are to be avoided.

The attitudes of community and industry to the use of biological resources should change from the 'maximum yield' approach to one of 'ecologically sustainable', which recognizes the need for conservation of biological diversity and maintenance of ecological integrity. Integration of management regimes within and between different sectors to meet environmental, economic and social objectives must be realized in order to achieve sustainable development.

Integrated approach

The development of integrated policies for managing the coastal resources is necessary

  • to coordinate activities within and between all levels of government,
  • to ensure that full social and environmental consequences (and costs) of development activities are considered and
  • to ensure that the public interest is properly taken into account.

Integrated policies will also provide the opportunity for all the people to accept responsibility for their actions and the impact they may have on biological diversity. The development of integrated policies for managing the coastal resources is necessary

  • to coordinate activities within and between all levels of
  • to ensure that full social and environmental consequences (and costs) of development activities are considered, and
  • to ensure that the public interest is properly taken into account.

Integrated policies will also provide the opportunity for all the people to accept responsibility for the impacts on biological diversity of their

Example: Yuntolovsky, Russia

An example of activities aimed at the conservation of biological diversity within the coastal zone is the 'Yuntolovsky' reserve in North West Russia. The reserve is located in the North West part of the city of St Petersburg, and borders the Finnish Bay in the south. The rivers of the Yuntolovka and Kamenka are in the West and East. For a number of years this coastal area was located within the limits of Saint-Petersburg and has been central in the conflict of interests between urban developers, industrial enterprises, yacht clubs and owners of cottage plots.

The Yuntolovsky is a continuation of the natural coastal belt in the East and plays an important role in conservation of coastal landscapes in the eastern part of the Finnish Bay and the water area of the Lakhtinsky Bay, which is the habitat of rare species of flora, birds and fish breeding grounds. The whole area of the Lakhtinsky Bay represents a unique natural phenomenon: spring marshes, black alder swamps, habitat of rare flora species, such as honeywort have been included in the Red Book.


In the early 20s scientists and experts paid attention to this unique territory and came up with an initiative to create a natural reserve. However, for a variety of reasons, it wasn't until the early 90s that the possibility for implementation of this idea presented itself.

During 1990-1991, a number of Resolutions issued by the Board of Leningrad Council of People's Deputies, led to the creation of Yuntolovsky reserve and the establishment of its temporary borders. The Resolutions also recommended that the Executive Committee undertake a number of specific actions aimed at encouraging the organization of the reserve, but this was never taken forward.

In 1996, the Directorate for Environment Protection within the Saint-Petersburg administration, and European Union Coastal Protection Division entered an agreement on development of the Management Plan with respect to the Yuntolovsky reserve. There was a considerable experience gained by European countries in the field of organisation and management of natural territories subject to a specific protection approach.

Managment plan
The preparation and implementation of the Management Plan represented a practical step towards sustainable important principles specified in various international documents on sustainable development that were adopted development of the city, as it took into account a range of very in Rio de Janeiro in 1992:
Conservation of biological diversity The territory of Yuntolovsky reserve being part of the Baltic flyway of migrating birds, their camping and feeding place, has gained significant importance at international level. Many flora and fauna species have now been entered into the Red Book of the Baltic Region and Russia:

  • conservation of wetlands;
  • conservation of water resources- restoration and conservation of the reserve, which is directly linked to the Finnish Bay, facilitates improving the ecological conditions of water area in the Baltic region;
  • resolution of social issues - the above mentioned territory is used for recreational purposes encouraging creation of employment opportunities;
  • development of ecological education of the population - The Management Plan stipulated the use of the territory for the purpose of scientific research by 2002 and was marked by the establishment of an informational ecological centre incorporating a nature museum available to students, school children and the adult population as part of an education programme.

The major objective of the Yungolovsky Reserve Management Plan is to achieve the set tasks and create optimal conditions for the natural territory and the city to co-exist together in the best way.

A number of parallel studies were also carried out in the new state of the territory. This later provided grounds for formulating proposals and finalizing a legal procedures for establishing borders of the reserve with the approval of the governor of Saint-Petersburg. An administration was set up to supervise the natural territories of the city, subject to a specific protection approach.

Yungolovsky Ecological Centre

In 1997, the residents of the Primorsky administrative district within Saint-Petersburg where the Yuntolovsky reserve is located, prepared and approved the District Agenda for the 21st century. The latter places particular focus on plans in respect to conservation of biological diversity in the district and development of the reserve. The residents of the district established their own public organization called the 'Yungolovsky Ecological Centre'. They were committed to resolve the issues of improving the territory of the reserve and adjacent areas, as well as promoting ecological awareness. The Centre is now open and conducting training courses on conservation issues including biological diversity. The Centre also arranges excursions on the territory of the reserve and organizes seminars and workshops on the problems associated with conservation of nature and development of ecological tourism.

Visitors to the centre take an active part in numerous activities aimed at improving the territory surrounding the reserve and restoring plant growth in its buffer zone that has been damaged as a result of intensive development in the district.

In 1999, an ornithological tower was placed on the border of the reserve providing free access to the public. Information stands were put up along the perimeter of the territory highlighting details such as the borders of the reserve, its biological value and code of behaviour that had to be observed. The ecological park offers nature walks, recreational facilities and informational materials.


In 2002, with the assistance of the Danish Agency for Environment Protection, a geographical information system was developed to provide a way of monitoring the preserve condition. This enables one to identify the most topical issues with respect to its development. Hence, as a result of monitoring activities undertaken over the last few years, some reduction in the productivity of the available feeding resources for the waterfowl has been observed on the territory of the Lakhtinsky Bay. This triggered the development of the restoration programme. The programme for restoration of shoal waters has been prepared for the northern part of the Lakhtinsky Bay. The latter was damaged as a result of hydrotechnical works, performed on the rivers flowing into the Bay. Apart from the involvement of the local industrial enterprises who are financing such works, their operation has been made a subject of stringent control. This comes from the point of view of nature-orientated bodies in the city, as a measure to try and protect this unique territory from possible adverse effects.