Coastal Ecosystems and Landscapes (EO 8)

Common Indicator 16: Length of coastline subject to physical disturbance due to the influence of manmade structures

Geographical scale of the assessment:

Mediterranean, with a focus on France, Italy, Montenegro

Contributing countries:
France, Italy, Montenegro
Mid-Term Strategy (MTS) Core Theme:
3-Land and Sea Interaction and Processes
Ecological Objective:

Ecological Objective 8 (EO8): Coastal Ecosystems and Landscapes

IMAP Common Indicator:
Common Indicator 16 (CI16): Length of coastline subject to physical disturbance due to the influence of manmade structures
Indicator Assessment Factsheet Code:

GES Definition: Physical disturbance to coastal areas induced by human activities should be minimized. 

GES Targets:

  • Pressure: Negative impacts of human activities on coastal areas are minimized through appropriate management measures.



The Mediterranean coastline is approximately 46000 km long, with around 40% of the coastal zone being under some form of artificial land cover (Plan Bleu, 2005). Mediterranean coastal areas are threatened by development that modifies the coastline through the construction of buildings and infrastructure that are needed to sustain residential, tourism, commercial, transport and other activities. This development can cause irreversible damage to landscapes; habitats and biodiversity; and shoreline configuration. This Ecological Objective 8 (EO8): Coastal Ecosystems and Landscapes, does not have a precedent in other regional ecosystem approach initiatives, such as Helcom or OSPAR, neither in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

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Assessment methods

Monitoring of the Common Indicator 16 focuses on measuring the length of artificial coastline and its share in total country’s coastline, on a proper geographical scale. An example of artificial vs. natural coastline can be seen in example on breakwaters in Figure 2.

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Results and Status, including trends

Until now there has been no systematic monitoring in Mediterranean regarding the Length of coastline subject to physical disturbance. The only country that has implemented the monitoring of this indicator on a national level, at the moment, is Italy. There were also assessments on national level in France and Montenegro, but these assessments, although quite similar, do not fully resemble the implementation of the common indicator 16, since they pre-date it. However, they still provide a deep insight on the state of Montenegrin and French coastlines regarding length of artificialized coastline.

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The inclusion of the EO8 Common Indicator aims to address the need for a systematic monitoring in Mediterranean regarding the physical disturbance of coastline due to the influence of manmade structures. On the other hand, it offers very few examples to follow, especially since this indicator has no operational precedents in regional ecosystem approach initiatives, such as Helcom or OSPAR, neither in Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

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Key messages

  • Mediterranean coastal areas are threatened by intensive construction of buildings and other infrastructure that can impact landscapes, habitats and biodiversity. The national reporting on state and evolution of coastal zones is required by the ICZM Protocol
  • There was no systematic monitoring in Mediterranean regarding coastal artificialization by now. The only country that has implemented the monitoring of the EO8 common indicator on a national level by this moment is Italy, with Montenegro and France performing similar inventories;

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Berlengi, G. (2013) Primjena odabranih indikatora za praćenje i ocjenjivanje održivosti prostornog razvoja obalnog područja Crne Gore (in Montenegrin)

Boak, E., H. & Turner I.  L. (2005). Shoreline definition and detection: a review. Journal of Coastal Research 21(4). 688-703.

Deichmann, U., Ehrlich, E., Small, E., and Zeug, G. (2011). Using high resolution satellite data for the identification of urban natural disaster risk (GFDRR (Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery)).

Markandya, A., Arnold, S., Cassinelli, M., and Taylor, T. (2008). Protecting coastal zones in the Mediterranean: an economic and regulatory analysis. J. Coast, Conserv, 12, 145–159.

McLachlan, A., Brown, A.C. (2006). The Ecology of Sandy Shores. Academic Press, Burlington, MA, USA, 373 pp

MEDAM - French Mediterranean coasts inventory and impact of reclamations
from the sea

Özhan, E. (2002). Coastal erosion management in the Mediterranean: an overview (Split: UNEP/MAP/PAP).

Plan Bleu (2005): Benoit G. and A. Comeau (eds.). “A Sustainable Future for the Mediterranean”. The Blue Plan’s Environment & Development Outlook, Earthscan, 2005.

Rochette, J., Puy-Montbrun, G., Wemaëre, M., and Billé, R. (2010). Coastal setback zones in the Mediterranean: a study on Article 8-2 of the Mediterranean ICZM Protocol, n°05/10 December 2010, IDDRI

Sanò, M., Jiménez, J,A., Medina, R., Stanica, A., Sanchez-Arcilla, A., and Trumbic, I. (2011). The role of coastal setbacks in the context of coastal erosion and climate change. Ocean Coast,Manag, 54, 943–950.

UNEP/MAP/PAP (2001). White paper: coastal zone management in the Mediterranean, (Split).

UNEP/MAP (2012) State of the Mediterranean Marine and Coastal Environment, UNEP/MAP – Barcelona Convention, Athens, 2012.

UNEP/MAP (2013). Approaches for definition of Good Environmental Status (GES) and setting targets for the Ecological Objective (EO) 7 “Hydrography” and EO8 “Coastal ecosystems and landscape” in the framework of the Ecosystem Approach.

UNEP/MAP (2016a). Decision IG.22/7 - Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme (IMAP) of the Mediterranean Sea and Coast and Related Assessment Criteria. COP19, Athens, Greece. United Nations Environment Programme, Mediterranean Action Plan, Athens.

UNEP/MAP (2016b). Draft Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Guidance. UNEP(DEPI)/MED IG.22/Inf.7

UNEP/MAP/PAP (2017). PAP/RAC Meeting of the Ecosystem Approach Correspondence Group on Monitoring (CORMON) on Coast and Hydrography – Working Document. UNEP(DEPI)/MED WG.433/1