WIT Press

A Sensitivity Analysis Of The European Union Coastal Zone Based On Environmental And Socio-economic Sustainability Indicators


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WIT Press


A. Kull, T. Oja & Ü. Mander


Coastal zones, which have a very high biodiversity value and a long history of being impacted by human activities, are among the most vulnerable ecosystems on our planet. Moreover, some scenarios predict that within 50 years more than 75% of the global human population will live in coastal zones. Although Europe’s coasts are among the most altered, there are significant regional differences within Europe in terms of naturalness and human pressure. During the integrated SENSOR project of the European Union’s (EU) 6th Framework Programme, we have analyzed the sensitivity of the EU’s coastal zones using data on 191 coastal cells at The Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) level, based on information from the Statistical Office of the European Community (EUROSTAT) and other Europe-level sources. To determine sensitive coastal areas, multidimensional clustering was provided. The NUTSx level (a combination of NUTS2 and NUTS3 level cells in order to achieve better spatial coverage) clustering resulted in seven clusters which were not, however, well distinguished in terms of the SENSOR sensitivity areas concept. Therefore clustering on the NUTS2 level was provided using 15 parameters characterizing economic, social and environmental aspects, yielding six clusters that were logically distinguishable from each other. The cluster characterized by a rapidly growing economy combined with relatively high but decreasing unemployment, low but increasing income, a low rate of investment in research and development (R&D), a low share of arable land but a high rural population, moderate length of coastline with the highest share of coast exposed to coastal erosion and a highly variable level of environmental protection, including 23 coastal NUTS2 areas plus five islands, has to be considered sensitive and needs further attention from the European Commission. Keywords: coastal zone, designated areas, European Union, GDP, sensitivity analysis, SENSOR, sustainability assessment.


coastal zone, designated areas, European Union, GDP, sensitivity analysis, SENSOR, sustainability assessment.