Sediment flow into the sea in Indonesia | Photo: ZMT

Coastal Development and Hinterland Dynamics

The needs of a growing population, ongoing life style changes and distributional polarisations increase the pressure on environment and society. Ongoing urbanisation processes and coastward migration challenge existing use and management systems in coastal land- and seascapes of the tropics. Energy and matter content of river and subsurface water flow transfer the results of human interventions in whole catchment areas towards the sea and thus affect the environment and the socioeconomic conditions of the coastal zone. Thus, the magnitude of the effects of human activities is particularly high in the coastal zone and highlights its extreme vulnerability. In Programme Area 3 we therefore address the causes and consequences of human interventions in the coastal zone and its hinterland on matter fluxes, eutrophication, pollution, habitat and ecosystem distribution, diversity and wellbeing of organisms and people, ecosystem services, socioeconomic conditions and governance.

The coastal tropics are hotspots of change, zones where socio-economic and institutional-political transformation and environmental change processes interact, and where the aggregate social, political, and infrastructural effects of human interventions are particularly strong. PA3 assesses these processes by focusing on the effects of coastal, urban development and hinterland dynamics. Processes in the terrestrial hinterland are of relevance as surface and subsurface water flows towards the coast are strongly altered by land use and land cover change, regulations of hydrology, industrialisation and migration. Almost acting like a funnel, rivers deliver a crucial subset of the aggregated effects of coastal development in catchments into the coastal zone, where it is modified in estuaries and strongly affects environmental, ecological and socioeconomic conditions. In particular, ecosystem services like filter and storage functions for carbon, nutrients, pollutants and sediments of coastal ecosystems can be altered, while institutional structures and practices for mitigation, adaptation and sustainable coastal management require empirically based analysis and development.