“What effect will this decision have on the natural habitat along my coastline 20 years from now?”
It's a question local councils and planning officials in coastal towns and cities need to ask every time they consider a proposal for local development, says Peter Sale, the Chair of the CRTR Program's Connectivity Working Group, who is attending GEF's International Water Conference at Cairns, Australia, this week.
"For coastal municipalities, especially, the answer holds lasting consequences for the livelihoods and wellbeing of the next generation of residents, investors and business owners," says Professor Sale.
"Nowhere else is the prosperity of a community so directly linked to the condition of the natural habitat - the beaches, coral reefs, estuaries, mangroves and seagrasses.
"The damage to important habitats and their biological and physical support systems caused by coastal and inland construction can be diverse, they can often be irreversible, and some are invisible," says Professor Sale, a panelist at the tropical marine technical workshop today which was attended by leading scientists and natural resource managers from around the world.
"For example, the removal of mangroves to create beaches reduces natural filtration which increases pollution; reduces storm protection; and builds a system that requires continual management (beach restoration).