Published: Saturday 15 July 2000

A White Paper for Sustainable Coastal Development was released by Valli Moosa, the environment minister of South Africa recently. The document emphasises the importance of considering all aspects of the coast together while taking decisions about them and aims to establish a balance between the developed, rural and wilderness coastal areas and prevent haphazard urbanisation. The focus will be on retaining natural beauty through the provision of incentives. Planning, the paper stated, should be beneficial to the coastal ecosystem and generally, the World Conservation Union's recommendations must be followed. It should be ensured that a buffer zone is kept between the shore and the buildings. Prominently visible structures should be avoided.

The importance of protecting estuaries, needed for maintaining commercial fish stocks and of minimising pollution is stressed upon. It has also been considered necessary to distribute the coastal resources fairly among the people, especially the poor.

The programme also aims to promote public awareness about the coast and to train managers in various techniques designed for its maintenance.

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