The coastal zone is a big place: some 40% of the world's population lives within 100 km of the sea and this zone is under increasing pressure. Sustainable development and management of coastal zone resources are vitally important to human well-being, to national economies and to the ecosystems on which we depend.
In simple spat!al terms, the coastal zone is the interface between the land and the ocean. It comprises inshore waters below low-tide level, inter-tidal areas and tracts of land above high-tide level. It is an area of transition where terrestrial and marine environments interact, characterized by a complex web of interactions among people, l"eSOUrces and ecosystems. This is a functional aspect of the definition rather than a simple spatial relationship, which is critical to our understanding of how it should be managed.
The coastal zone environment that is of particular interest to us is represented by river deltas, mangrove swamps, salt marshes and estuaries where the land-water interface is gradual, extensive and seasonally varying.