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Spatial Planning of the Coastal Marine Socioecological System—Case Study: Punta Carnero, Ecuador
Spatial Planning of the Coastal Marine Socioecological System—Case Study: Punta Carnero,...
Escandón-Panchana, Jenny;Elao Vallejo, Rafael;Escandón-Panchana, Paulo;Velastegui-Montoya, Andrés;Herrera-Franco, Gricelda
resources Article Spatial Planning of the Coastal Marine Socioecological System—Case Study: Punta Carnero, Ecuador 1 1 2 Jenny Escandón-Panchana , Rafael Elao Vallejo , Paulo Escandón-Panchana , 3 , 4 , 5 2 , 6 , Andrés Velastegui-Montoya and Gricelda Herrera-Franco * Facultad de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad de Guayaquil, Av. Raúl Gómez Lince y Av. Juan Tanca Marengo, Guayaquil 090150, Ecuador Geo-Recursos y Aplicaciones GIGA, Campus Gustavo Galindo, ESPOL Polytechnic University, Km. 30.5 Vía Perimetral, Guayaquil P.O. Box 09-01-5863, Ecuador Facultad de Ingeniería en Ciencias de la Tierra (FICT), ESPOL Polytechnic University, Guayaquil P.O. Box 09-01-5863, Ecuador Centro de Investigaciones y Proyectos Aplicados a las Ciencias de la Tierra (CIPAT), ESPOL Polytechnic University, Guayaquil P.O. Box 09-01-5863, Ecuador Geoscience Institute, Federal University of Pará, Belém 66075-110, Brazil Facultad de Ciencias de la Ingeniería, Universidad Estatal Península de Santa Elena (UPSE), Avda. Principal La Libertad-Santa Elena, La Libertad 240204, Ecuador * Correspondence: firstname.lastname@example.org Abstract: Marine-coastal ecosystems are productive and valuable habitats worldwide due to their signiﬁcant contributions to human wellbeing. However, human activities, limited territorial planning, and unsustainable demand and consumption of natural goods and services put pressure on marine- coastal ecosystems. In this sense, marine-coastal planning is a management tool to contrast these forces because it manages different human activities on the coast and in the oceans over space and time, strengthening political, social, and tourist development and the economy of the territory. Citation: Escandón-Panchana, J.; Our objective is to propose marine-coastal spatial planning strategies through an ecosystem-based Elao Vallejo, R.; Escandón-Panchana, approach for allocating a mangrove and estuarine zone conservation area. The study methodology is: P.; Velastegui-Montoya, A.; (i) Compilation of information from the study area with an emphasis on regulations and protected Herrera-Franco, G. Spatial Planning areas. (ii) Analysis of human relations with marine-coastal ecosystems. (iii) Mapping and zoning of of the Coastal Marine Socioecological System—Case Study: Punta Carnero, the conservation area. (iv) Analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats and threats, Ecuador. Resources 2022, 11, 74. weaknesses, opportunities, strengths (SWOT–TWOS) matrix to recommend strategies and guarantee https://doi.org/10.3390/ the viability of marine-coastal protection. The results show zoning maps of the sector proposed as resources11080074 a conservation area comprising mangroves and an estuarine zone. It also approaches governance strategies or conservation management measures and protection of the marine-coastal space. Finally, Academic Editor: Farshid Aram as a recommendation, we propose improvements to the current municipal ordinances, guaranteeing Received: 16 June 2022 the management and protection of the study area, and furthering achievements in the comprehensive Accepted: 29 July 2022 development of land-use planning. Published: 4 August 2022 Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral Keywords: marine-coastal; conservation; protection; mangrove; estuarine zone; sustainability with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional afﬁl- iations. 1. Introduction Ecosystems are natural systems that provide environmental services for living beings. Ecosystem conservation guarantees sustainable development between nature, society and Copyright: © 2022 by the authors. the economy [1,2]. However, ecosystems suffer potential damage due to conversion and Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. land use [3,4]. In addition, conﬂicts between the population, the development of economic This article is an open access article activities, ecosystems, and the environment produce adverse effects such as overﬁshing, distributed under the terms and habitat destruction, climate change, and pressure on the health of the oceans. Therefore, conditions of the Creative Commons there is the need to conserve nature in ecologically and biologically sensitive areas [5,6]. Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ Coastal-marine ecosystems (CMEs) are the most productive socio–ecological systems 4.0/). in the world. They interact with human and ecological elements in time and space . Resources 2022, 11, 74. https://doi.org/10.3390/resources11080074 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/resources Resources 2022, 11, 74 2 of 17 CMEs offer a wide variety of ecosystem services to the human population, including provision (commercial ﬁshing and crab and lobster capture), regulation (erosion control and protection of coasts and natural phenomena), support (nutrients and species habitats), and culture (e.g., tourism, sport ﬁshing) [8–11]. Marine-coastal zones have strong relationships and interactions due to the develop- ment of socio-spatial systems in delicate balance with competitive social and economic relations in these areas . As a result, marine-coastal sites operate in a highly variable environment, and their ecosystems have anthropogenic and natural pressures that some- times lead to their degradation. Given the problems and importance of these areas, it is necessary to use ﬂexible management tools to sustain CMEs within the framework of marine-coastal spatial planning . In addition, integrated coastal zone management allows for broad participation and resolution of conﬂicts between economic development needs and resource conservation [14–16]. Therefore, CME assessment has determined the importance of mangroves, estuaries, intertidal ﬂats and coral reefs [17,18]. Mangroves are tropical and subtropical ecological systems with high environmental productivity [19–21]. They maintain and protect marine-coastal biodiversity . They are sensitive to anthropogenic activities derived from urbanization and economic devel- opment [23,24]. Due to their habitat quality, mangroves are a place for spawning and reproducing the biota that inhabits its ecosystem [25,26]. The conservation of mangroves is essential since they provide multiple ecological services, control coastal erosion, and have regional tourist potential . Due to this, the implementation of control, management, and planning policies appear through spatial analysis techniques, remote sensing, and indicators to preserve ecosystem services by local and regional governments [28–32]. Marine-coastal spatial planning (CMSP) is a process that contributes to CME manage- ment. It determines spatial information of territories, marine areas, population, allocation of space and time to human activities [33,34], and conﬂicts present in the interaction between human being and the environment  to achieve economic, political, environmental, and social objectives [36–38]. In addition, CMSP includes the conservation of CME through monitoring and evaluating ecosystems that meet the ecological objectives of the compre- hensive management plan and consider sustainable development goals. Finally, CMSP plans present and future uses in the different areas of the territory [39,40]. A conservation plan considers ecosystems with their respective characteristics and species diversity in addition to the proﬁtability of the conservation area in the social, eco- nomic , and political spheres . Furthermore, valuing heritage resources contributes to promoting the conservation and efﬁcient use of these resources [43,44]. Therefore, ecosys- tem conservation and protection contribute to implementing CMSP, guaranteeing a stable environment and sustainable growth [45,46]. There are different studies regarding spatial planning in marine-coastal sectors at the regional level. For example, the research case of  proposed a new tool to map, model, and evaluate the services offered by CMEs on Vancouver Island, Great Britain. The results showed a support tool for decision-making in CMSP. Another study on Zanzibar Island in Tanzania explored coastal areas subject to human pressures and natural resource extraction. They reported the importance of zoning through maps that identiﬁed the demands of the coastal socio–ecological system of the sector . On the other hand, several authors presented a risk assessment model for marine habitats based on the participation of actors involved in the coastal sectors of Belize, a review of current regulations, the spatial distribution of marine-coastal activities, and zoning for future uses. They concluded that their study is a critical approach for CMSP in current and future ecosystem management scenarios . Similarly, for a conservation planning and management study in the Galapagos Marine Reserve (Ecuador), the authors considered key actors’ perceptions, expectations, and experiences. They used participatory processes for rezoning a marine protected area to deﬁne marine conservation strategies, including the local government to protect these areas belonging to the Galapagos reserve . Resources 2022, 11, 74 3 of 17 The authors of  developed a CMSP in the Puerto Peñasco–Puerto Lobos corridor in Mexico with a ﬁsheries management approach using spatial and non-spatial tools. They assigned marine areas to anglers in the sector to carry out ﬁshing activities in speciﬁc geographic regions. They used the Atlantis ecosystem model and reported ecosystem- based management beneﬁts. Studies on Pamurbaya mangrove conservation areas determined changes in the coast- line and land areas due to accretion and erosion of the land. The authors provided de- velopment and management strategies for these sectors . Similarly, for mangrove conservation and reforestation in mainland China, a study used habitat distribution pat- terns related to their environmental conditions and identiﬁed prime sectors for mangrove conservation . In ’s investigation of mangroves in the Volta River estuary in Ghana, the authors demonstrated that mangrove resources are restored and managed sustainably through compliance with local and regional regulations. They promoted the conservation of coastal resources (e.g., mangroves) with beneﬁts to the economy and the population’s environment. Meanwhile, for conservation of a turbid tropical estuary, the authors consid- ered different perspectives such as mangrove habitat analysis and biodiversity hotspots. They concluded that mangroves and their interactions with the habitat contribute to the conservation of estuaries . In Australia’s Port Stephens Estuary, researchers conducted a study of habitat con- servation through the use of species and area ratios. As a result, they achieved objective planning in zoning, preservation, and protection of these marine areas and for species such as ﬁsh and molluscs . Other studies on the conservation of Amazonian estuaries in Brazil identiﬁed protected conservation areas through the analysis of ecological and economic criteria, and used geographic information systems for the elaboration of zoning maps for the conservation of ﬁsh fauna in the region . In Ecuador, researchers implemented conservation programs and protected areas to effectively preserve and recover marine ecosystems, such as rocky reefs in the province of Manabí. In addition, they diagnosed contamination and evaluated spatial distribution patterns of the disposal of marine debris that affect the Manabi coasts, either due to the inﬂux of tourists or ﬁshing activities . The province of Santa Elena has highlighted its geology, history, and ecological, min- eral, and tourist resources, which determines the relevance of studies related to the conser- vation of environmental ecosystems . Furthermore, the Salinas district has a delimited marine-coastal reserve, Puntilla de Santa Elena (REMACOPSE), with different ecosystems contributing to the preservation of the environment and ecotourism sector and to the geo-conservation of these sites . Therefore, the study area has territorial policies such as parish and cantonal land-use plans and environmental plans such as a management plan for the tourist reserve and beach of the sea, as shown in Table S1. However, the strip adjacent to this reserve has ecosystems that require attention due to the anthropic activities in its surroundings [60–62]. Therefore, the framework of this problem poses the following research question: Can participatory marine-coastal planning be established taking into consideration the inﬂuence of the mangrove-estuary ecosystem and its impact on the environment for the sustainability of the territory? The study’s objective is to propose marine-coastal spatial planning strategies based on ecosystems for allocating a mangrove conservation area and an estuarine zone in the Punta Carnero sector. The analysis of the information refers to protection and conservation regulations and the ecological criteria identified for the marine-coastal ecosystems of the area. The participation of the population, tourists, microentrepreneurs, and agricultural unions allowed the construction of a participatory socio–ecological map. This map revealed relevant information for conserving the Punta Carnero mangroves and estuary. Furthermore, it allowed spatial zoning of natural areas and activities in the sector. Finally, SWOT analysis provided coastal marine spatial planning strategies for conserving these ecosystems. Resources 2022, 11, 74 4 of 17 Study Area Santa Elena province is in the southwest of the coastal region of Ecuador. This province comprises three urban cantons: Salinas, La Libertad, and Santa Elena. To the southwest of the Salinas canton is the rocky point known as the Punta Carnero sector, where the Punta 0 00 0 00 0 00 0 00 Carnero estuary is located (2 15 53.89 and 2 17 25.92 S; 80 54 31.39 and 80 54 45.89 W) (Figure 1) . This estuary empties into and interacts with the Punta Carnero mangroves 0 00 0 00 (2 17 23.56 S and 80 54 42.68 W) and is adjacent to the beach in La Diablica sector. The Punta Carnero mangroves cover 31 hectares of land surface and connect with the Velasco Ibarra wetland. Figure 1. Location of the Punta Carnero estuary and mangroves of the Salinas district, Santa Elena Province, Ecuador. In the Punta Carnero sector, there are different terrestrial, coastal, and marine ecosys- tems, such as Punta Carnero beach, which is within the Puntilla de Santa Elena Coastal Marine Faunistic Production Reserve (Remacopse) . The Remacopse has an area of 52,231.75 marine hectares and 203.82 land hectares . Perpendicular to the Punta Carnero beach is an adjacent strip of one kilometre in length; it is the buffer zone of the Remacopse and has an area of 6.37 hectares with a variable width of 8–40 m. The study area presents ﬂora and fauna with the widest diversity of wildlife on the Ecuadorian coasts. Wetlands, estuaries, and mangroves form refuges for resident and migratory birds . It is a residential sector, identiﬁed according to the social approach, with a permanent population (i.e., inhabitants of the area) and a ﬂoating population (i.e., inhabitants from tourism). The population of the Punta Carnero sector represents 2.15% of the total population of the José Luis Tamayo parish (475 inhabitants). The inhabitants have primary (39.64%), secondary (24.10%), and higher (8.07%) academic training . Most of this population self-identiﬁes as mestizo. This sector receives a large inﬂux of tourism during two periods of the year, from January to April and from June to September. Due to the tourist reserve, this sector receives 265,922 tourists annually, of which 99.1% correspond to national tourists and 0.9% to foreign tourists . The main economic activity of the Punta Carnero sector is tourism, causing the pres- ence of surfers on Punta Carnero beach, plus sport ﬁshing and water sports; other activities include trade, agriculture, masonry, shrimp larvae production, extraction of artisanal salt, and oil activity . Based on these activities, the occupations of the inhabitants consist of 19.15% workers and merchants for tourism, 7.40% farmers, 19.52% artisans, and 18.98% elementary occupations (e.g., bricklayers and guards) . Resources 2022, 11, 74 5 of 17 2. Materials and Methods Figure 2 presents the methodology of this study, which was based on four phases: (1) Compilation of essential information: protection and conservation regulations and selection criteria for protected areas for the conservation of mangroves and the estuary; (2) Social and ecological interaction of the study area: population’s perception of marine- coastal ecosystems and planning of a participatory socio–ecological model; (3) Mapping and zoning of the conservation area; and (4) Analysis of the SWOT–TWOS matrix for the design of marine-coastal spatial planning strategies. Figure 2. Research methodology. 2.1. Information Recopilation The collection of information consisted of three phases: (1) Review of local and regional regulations in the framework of protection and conservation of ecological systems [66–70]; (2) Review of the knowledgebase to deﬁne the management of coastal resources, parameters of protection, conservation and restoration of ecosystems, and beneﬁts of coastal protec- tion for the adequate management of mangroves and the declaration of protected areas (e.g. mangroves, estuary, wetland and birds), as shown in Table S2; and (3) Reconnaissance of the study area through spatial and nonspatial data collection, as well as technical visits to the sector . Selection Criteria for Mangrove and Estuary Conservation The selection criteria in this study allowed the identiﬁcation and prioritization of potentially signiﬁcant ecological areas for conservation. In this way, there are criteria related to habitats (unique, rare habitat; fragile, sensitive habitat; and ecological integrity and representativeness) and standards related to species (conservation concern; restricted range; biological diversity; and important areas for life-history stages) [72–74]. 2.2. Social and Ecological Interaction The social and ecological interaction between the marine-coastal ecosystems of the Punta Carnero sector and the population comprised two phases: (i) Population perception and (ii) Participatory socio–ecological model. Resources 2022, 11, 74 6 of 17 The ﬁrst phase used a survey related to the population’s perception of the marine- coastal ecosystems of the sector. The survey was performed in March of 2022. Its structure included three sections: (i) Sociodemographic data of the inhabitants; (ii) Perception of knowledge of marine-coastal ecosystems, ecosystem services, interaction with the inhabi- tants, and local government management; and (iii) Recommendations for the conservation of these ecosystems. The representative sample was 210 people and comprised 49.52% residents of the sector, 12.86% tourists, 18.10% farmers, 7.14% artisans for salt extraction, 3.81% producers of shrimp larvae, and 8.57% hotel security staff. The second phase included the participation of several actors from the Punta Carnero sector through participatory workshops [75–77]. The participants were actors identiﬁed ac- cording to a survey and technical visits. For this, we invited the inhabitants, neighbourhood directors, presidents of associations, governmental and non-governmental entities, and sector guilds. On average, 40 people attended each of the three workshops. The meetings lasted two hours, and the technical research team led workgroups. Each group had different actors such as inhabitants of the sector, tourists, agricultural association members, formal and informal associates of salt extraction, micro-entrepreneurs producing shrimp larvae, public sector workers from the local government, and guilds of the hotel security staff of Punta Carnero. This dynamic built a collaborative socio–ecological model through a causal loop diagram (CLD). The CLD determined the variables and causal links that describe the system, including problems or beneﬁts that inﬂuence its behaviour [78,79]. The arrows represent the cause-and-effect relationship between the different variables . When the connection was positive, it used the (+) sign on the effect it produced on the variable. On the contrary, a negative relationship used the character ( ). Further, feedback loops determined a closed loop. For example, the reinforcement feedback loop (R) strengthened the initial variable, while the equilibrium feedback loop counteracted it [78,80]. 2.3. Zoning of the Conservation Area Zoning was carried out through the base map of satellite images already available using the ArcGIS Pro program. Delimitation of the different regions and ecosystems within the scope-of-interest identiﬁed the following areas and activities: farming, dry tropical forest, estuary, wetland, mangrove forest, wastewater treatment, salt production, sea-side, bare soil, urban area, and shrub vegetation . 2.4. SWOT-TOWS Analysis The SWOT–TWOS matrix determined the marine-coastal spatial planning strategies contributing to conserving the Punta Carnero mangroves and estuary. Construction of the SWOT was based on population perception data and participatory workshops with inhabitants, tourists, and trade associations [81,82]. 3. Results The study found priority habitats for conservation with their respective ecosystem services. It also proposed a participatory socio–ecological map, a zoning map of natural areas and activities in the sector, and recommendations for marine-coastal spatial planning strategies for conserving the mangroves and the estuary. 3.1. Priority Habitats for Conservation Table 1 presents the marine-coastal ecosystems of the Punta Carnero sector and impor- tant initiatives for the conservation of biodiversity as identiﬁed through ecological criteria of habitats and species for their preservation. These criteria identiﬁed various bird species and four habitats: Punta Carnero mangroves and estuary, Velasco Ibarra wetland, and the Remacopse protected area. According to the habitat criteria, the mangrove swamp and the estuary are unique, fragile, and sensitive ecosystems due to human activities (e.g., salt and oil extraction). On the other hand, they have a high degree of ecological integrity as they Resources 2022, 11, 74 7 of 17 are a spawning habitat for different species of birds. Further, they show representativeness for being in an area adjacent to a protected area (i.e., Remacopse). Table 1. Ecological criterial of essential areas for the conservation of mangroves and estuaries. Criterial Habitat Species Marine-Coastal Important Unique, Fragile, Ecosystems Ecological Conservation Restricted Biological Area for Rare Sensitive Representativeness Integrity Concern Range Diversity Life-History Habitat Habitat Stages Punta Carnero A A A A A NA A A Mangrove Punta Carnero Estuary A A A A NA NA A NA Velasco Ibarra Wetland A NA NA A NA NA NA NA * Protected A NA A A A A A A area (Remacopse) * Migratory bird NA NA NA NA A A A A nesting sites A: applicable; NA: not applicable; * important initiatives for biodiversity conservation. On the other hand, the three monitoring events in the winter season identiﬁed 25 species of migratory birds, including Pelican Gannet, Garza Nívea, and Spoonbill species [83,84]. These birds interact with the various ecosystems surrounding the Punta Carnero mangrove. Furthermore, due to the small territorial extension of the mangroves, these birds have a restricted geographic range. Therefore, the Punta Carnero mangroves are an important area for the life-stages of migratory birds. 3.2. Ecosystem Services of the Punta Carnero Mangroves The participatory workshops identiﬁed the marine-coastal ecosystems of the man- groves and Punta Carnero estuary with their respective ecosystem services. Similarly, the workshops recognized the interaction of the mangroves and estuary with other surrounding ecosystems and their relationship with the local population. Table 2 presents the perception results of the participatory analysis regarding ecosys- tem services offered by the mangroves, listing ecological beneﬁts of provision (speciﬁcally for domestic consumption; e.g., crab and shell capture), regulation (e.g., protection of the Punta Carnero coastal proﬁle), support (e.g., nesting sites of migratory birds), and culture (e.g., tourism). Table 2. Ecosystem services offered by the Punta Carnero mangroves. Type of Services Ecosystem Services Food for domestic consumption (capture of crabs and shells). Provisioning Agriculture and Livestock. Air quality. Carbon capture. Erosion control. Regulating Soil fertility. Protection of Punta Carnero coastline. Protection from natural phenomena. Avoiding soil salinization. Supporting Substrate nutrients. Migratory bird refuge. Environmental education. Natural heritage. Cultural Ecotourism. Source of inspiration. Resources 2022, 11, 74 8 of 17 3.3. Participatory Socioecological Map Construction of the participatory socio–ecological map (PSM) included the participa- tion of the population of the Punta Carnero sector, formal and informal associates of salt extraction, agricultural associates, and the guardians’ union. After identifying ecosystem services, the PSM presents a holistic approach to the dynamics between the actors, ecosystem services, and the affectation and beneﬁts of the CME. The causal relationships and feedback loops of the PSM show the existing connections of cause-and-effect and the interrelation of various variables that intervene in the model. The environmental pressures of the various anthropogenic activities and the diversity of ecological services of the CME in the sector support the suitability of this approach. The participants identiﬁed that conserving the Punta Carnero mangroves and es- tuary is the primary ecosystem function in the socio–ecological model, promoting the conservation of the CME in the sector. Figure 3 shows how various variables under a causal structure inﬂuence the mangrove and estuary conservation variables. The participants highlighted the importance of tourism in the sector. They identiﬁed that increases in tourism produce more signiﬁcant activity in ecotourism, leading to the preservation of the mangroves and estuary and in the incidence of increased infrastructure for the sector. However, there is no compliance with existing local public policies for territorial urban development. Figure 3. PSM for conservation of the Punta Carnero mangroves and estuary. The reinforcing loop R1 presents the relationship between ecotourism and conservation of the mangroves and estuary. That is, the preservation of these ecosystems produces an increasing trend in different ecotourism activities developed in the natural environment of the sector. Simultaneously, the economic income generated by these activities positively affects the conservation of these ecosystems. Loop R2 determines that the higher the tourist density in the sector, the more infrastructure is required. In the perception of the inhabitants, the infrastructure will allow tourism growth. Resources 2022, 11, 74 9 of 17 On the other hand, those involved stated that the increase in the rate of tourists leads to more signiﬁcant pollution of the environment. However, they indicated that environmental education, public awareness, and best environmental practices counteract such contam- ination. Similarly, they ensured that educational campaigns motivate the community’s collaboration, participation, and commitment to conserving marine-coastal ecosystems. Indeed, all these actions require the commitment of sectional organizations (e.g., compliance with the municipal ordinances and management plans), non-governmental organizations, and other organizations dedicated to preserving these ecosystems. Among the problems observed by the participants, they identiﬁed anthropogenic activities, such as salt and oil extraction in the sector, that put pressure on the marine- coastal ecosystem and affect the conservation of the mangroves and estuary. The ordering of the territory and the spatial planning of these ecosystems are essential variables in the socio–ecological map. Both relate to the control and reduction of anthropic activities. The spatial planning of ecosystems will improve land-use conﬂicts and human activities in the sector, which affects the importance of conserving the CME in the study area. The conservation of the Punta Carnero mangroves and estuary has a positive inﬂuence on the preservation of biodiversity. For the participants, the diversity of species (birds) and marine-coastal ecosystems leads to the growing conservation trend of bird habitats and fauna, so these habitats become nesting sites for birds. Therefore, they stated that the conservation of biodiversity produces an interaction between the remaining ecosystems located to the north (Ecuasal mangroves) and south (Diablica mangroves) of the mangroves under study and vice versa (R3). In addition, the participants indicated that preserving the diversity of bird species results in protecting these ecosystems and vice versa (R4). Finally, the participants determined other consequent beneﬁts of conserving the Punta Carnero mangroves and estuary, such as increased protection of coasts against natural phenomena and ecological interaction with different ecosystems. In addition, preserving these ecosystems reduces erosion of the Punta Carnero coastal proﬁle and decreases the salinization of soils, making soils suitable for agriculture. 3.4. Zoning Map Figure 4 presents the spatial zoning of activities (farming, wastewater treatment, salt production, and urban areas) and natural areas (dry tropical forest, estuary, mangrove forest, wetland, seaside, bare soil, and shrub vegetation) of Punta Carnero (Figure 4a). The Punta Carnero estuary and mangrove swamp together with the remaining mangrove swamp of La Diablica form nesting sites for various bird species; these two ecosystems show ecological integrity for their conservation (Figure 4b). Resources 2022, 11, 74 10 of 17 Figure 4. Delimitation of areas and ecosystems of the Punta Carnero sector. (a) Activities and natural areas of Punta Carnero. (b) Interaction of the Punta Carnero mangrove with the remaining La Diablica mangrove. 3.5. Spatial Planning Strategies Tables 3 and 4 show the SWOT–TWOS matrix according to the analysis of the study area. Table 3. SWOT analysis of study area. Strengths Opportunities Development plans for land-use planning The main economic activities are tourism, agriculture, A a and beach conservation. Management plan for the and the production of shrimp larvae. tourist reserve and beach of the sea. Related studies to generate B Environmental services with biodiversity. b alternatives/solutions in the sector. Participatory stakeholders (inhabitants, agricultural Tourist activities are compatible with agriculture due C c associations, guilds of the hotel security staff, to the proximity of farms. local government, and artisans). A unique ecosystem of the sea, coast, oil resources, Socio–ecological system for D d agriculture, salt deposits, sun, and beach tourism. development and promotion. Coastal marine reserve adjacent to the mangrove E swamp and Punta Carnero estuary. These ecosystems are in the buffer zone of the resource. Weaknesses Threats Low awareness of the conservation Problems are due to land use and its natural (A) (a) of this sector by those involved. environment due to the sector ’s economic activities. (B) Weak promotion of mangroves and estuary. (b) Uncontrolled urban growth. Lack of links with universities, Lack of commitments between local (C) sectional government, and community for the (c) and external entities to take channels of generation of development plans. control and territorial planning. Sectional organizations such as the (D) Deﬁcient territorial planning of sector. (d) Ministry of the Environment, Water and Ecological Transition are not taking action. (e) Effects due to climate change. (f) External migration of birds. Resources 2022, 11, 74 11 of 17 Table 4. TWOS strategy matrix. Strengths + Opportunities Strengths + Threats Strategic alliances with governmental Application of territorial ordinances and nongovernmental organizations Aa ABd for marine-coastal conservation. for developing ecotourism projects compatible with marine-coastal ecosystems. Involvement with private and public sectors and community for the joint planning Db Cb Marine-coastal geotourism strip or cord. of mangrove and estuary conservation (local government, guilds, residents, and entrepreneurs). Weaknesses + Opportunities Weaknesses + Threats Strategic alliances with stakeholders to promote/empower (C) (D) (a) Regulation through ordinances/territorial (A)c the importance of marine-coastal conservation. (b) (c) (d) planning according to the needs of the sector. Coordinate actions through working (C)ab groups with universities/companies for conservation alternatives in this sector. 4. Discussion Some marine-coastal spatial planning processes include the actions of the social com- munity in ecosystem management programs. This study considers a socio–ecological system with the active participation of a very diverse groups of stakeholders, which allows for the successful management of environmental resources. In addition, it contributes to the delimitation of natural areas and human activities in a marine coastline and proposes spatial planning strategies to preserve ecosystems. The participatory socio–ecological system obtained relevant socio-spatial data for the spatial planning and management of marine-coastal ecosystems. This system is essential due to the inclusion of different actors in the sector (e.g., inhabitants, tourists, local compa- nies, and government) . These actors reﬂected and deepened their understanding of the presence of ecosystems (e.g., mangroves and estuaries) and their interaction with the environment. Furthermore, the participation and inﬂuence of the community were vital elements in decision-making due to the diversity of meanings, opinions, and values that the population assigned to the different habitats and species in the sector . Similarly, other studies highlighted the importance of participatory planning. They collected and integrated the empirical and scientiﬁc knowledge of the inhabitants and those involved in various coastal-zone projects , such as the identiﬁcation, assessment, and mapping of ecosystem services [87–89]; the mangrove zoning and management plan ; and adaptive management in estuarine program development . Moreover, other territorial projects, such as the regeneration of the Varvakeios Square, have obtained a series of community-driven proposals ; likewise for the development of rural communities facing water scarcity, where the participatory process is essential to solve these challenges [92,93]. These studies identiﬁed problems and contributed to the reduction of negative interactions between the land and sea. On the contrary, other investigations lack debate in decision-making and the participation of the actors that are part of the socio– ecological system, providing little understanding of the beneﬁts and ecosystem services some natural areas offer [87,94]. Further, in some regions of the world, conservation policies have excluded the participation of coastal communities and co-management frameworks to preserve mangroves . Mangrove swamps hosts a diversity of local and migratory birds that ﬁnd important habitats for different life-cycle phases, especially spawning and feeding. The interaction of the mangroves and the Punta Carnero estuary combines various ecological criteria related to conserving habitats and species in the sector. These ecosystems represent fragile and sensitive areas with high environmental integrity required for their preservation. According to the residents, this could be an ideal argument for conserving mangroves and estuarine zones. However, these natural areas have not been designated conservation or protected zones. Some studies have determined different ecological criteria for the conservation Resources 2022, 11, 74 12 of 17 potential of ecosystems. They promote the conservation of coastal resources and point out that the diversity and abundance of species and habitats make mangroves and estuaries the most valuable and productive ecosystems on the planet [18,72]. Not only do they have a rich habitat diversity for birds , but they also have coral communities  and ﬁsh fauna ; further, they improve water quality, reduce the impact of ﬂooding, store large amounts of carbon , and have a variety of substrate nutrients . This study recognised the various anthropogenic activities (e.g., extraction of salt and oil) that put pressure on the marine-coastal ecosystem. As a result, it reduced the perception that affected economic groups or sectors defend their activities against any management, which involves a collaborative environment without confrontations in the planning of the socio–ecological system. The conservation management of these ecosystems considers the control and possible reduction of human pressures, which strategically generates preventative alternatives for conserving these habitats and their species. In addition to these ecosystems’ representativeness, they are proximate to a protected area. Some studies show interest in managing and monitoring anthropogenic pressures [35,98]. They establish that these activities could be considered ecologically sustainable pressures, including ecotourism due to its coastal biodiversity and oil and gas exploration [46,99]. In addition, they highlight the interest in education plans with regard to contamination levels due to human activity in natural and artiﬁcial habitats [100,101] and pressures-based mangrove conservation and restoration plans . The management of marine-coastal ecosystems requires including human activities for a sustainable future for coastal populations within the spatial planning of participatory socio–ecological systems. This framework integrates ecosystems, the pressure of human activities, ecosystem services, and the interaction of ecosystems with the population. In addition, it supports the need for territorial development and the conservation of the marine-coastal ecosystem. Finally, it is essential to highlight the study’s limitations: (a) the complexity of involv- ing all stakeholders of the socio–ecological system; (b) guaranteeing community commit- ment; and (c) lack of public awareness and knowledge of the environmental ecosystem services of the settlers. 5. Conclusions This study configures CMSP strategies through a participatory socio–ecological model, where diverse perceptions of those involved and the floating population (due to tourist activity) are necessary to recognise marine-coastal ecosystems, their ecosystem services, and their interaction with the environment and people. In conclusion, 85% of the population agrees with preserving and protecting the mangrove swamp and estuary of Punta Carnero due to the environmental benefits and human well-being provided by these ecosystems. This participatory approach demonstrated a reliable way to obtain spatial data from the community and to propose co-management for conserving the Punta Carnero mangroves and estuary. In addition, it contrasts the pressures faced by the mangroves with the capacity to provide rich biodiversity, natural spawning sites, and marine-coastal resources of the sector. The active participation of local governments will lead to the control and regulation of municipal ordinances, which improves the management of the marine-coastal resources of the Punta Carnero sector. Furthermore, territorial organization policies and joint spa- tial planning with all the actors will allow monitoring and follow-up of anthropogenic pressures, possibly converting them into ecologically sustainable forces for the local de- velopment of the territory and the conservation of ecosystems. Therefore, this includes geotourism projects that integrate human activities, oil resources, tourism, and the pro- tection of marine-coastal ecosystems. Another essential strategy is the environmental education of the participants involved in the socio–ecological model, because this strength- ens the actors’ commitment to the territorial ordering plans and demonstrates their interest in the preservation of the mangroves and the Punta Carnero estuary. Resources 2022, 11, 74 13 of 17 The study highlights the importance of fusing the social, ecological, and economic contexts that integrate the different perceptions to strengthen and diversify the policies, practices for preserving, and conservation plans for ecosystems in the sector, identifying beneﬁts that guarantee the sustainable development marine-coastal sites. This study recommends guidelines for future research in the framework of marine- coastal spatial planning: (i) Promote the beneﬁts and protection services of coastal marine ecosystems in communities; and (ii) Consider all the factors that directly and indirectly affect the assessment of ecosystem services provided by mangroves and estuaries. Supplementary Materials: The following supporting information can be downloaded at: https:// www.mdpi.com/article/10.3390/resources11080074/s1, Table S1: Environmental and territorial plans of the Punta Carnero sector. Table S2: Knowledge base for managing protection and conservation of marine-coastal ecosystems in the Punta Carnero sector. Author Contributions: Conceptualization, J.E.-P., R.E.V., P.E.-P. and G.H.-F.; methodology J.E.-P., G.H.-F. and P.E.-P.; software, A.V.-M.; investigation, J.E.-P., G.H.-F., P.E.-P. and A.V.-M.; writing— original draft preparation, J.E.-P., P.E.-P. and G.H.-F.; writing—review and editing, J.E.-P., P.E.-P., A.V.-M. and G.H.-F.; supervision, R.E.V. and G.H.-F. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript. Funding: This research received no external funding. Institutional Review Board Statement: Not applicable. Informed Consent Statement: Not applicable. Data Availability Statement: Not applicable. Acknowledgments: This study was possible thanks to research derived from the master ’s thesis of J.E-P at the University of Guayaquil (UG). We thank Lcda. Laura Hurtado from the International Conservation Organization of Ecuador, Blga. 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Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
Spatial Planning of the Coastal Marine Socioecological System—Case Study: Punta Carnero, Ecuador
Elao Vallejo, Rafael
, Volume 11 (8) –
Aug 4, 2022
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