Integrated Management Programme for Ria de Aveiro - MARIA.

LIFE96 ENV/P/000601

Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version  

Contact details:

Project Manager: Celeste DE OLIVEIRA ALBES COELHO
Tel: 351 34 370200
Fax: 351 34 29290

Project description:


The project area, covering 600 km2, stretches around the Aveiro Lagoon, a Ria area of key importance for nature conservation. The Lagoon has been highly developed mainly due to the need to find low-cost space , whilst the project area represents innumerable diversified interests, with a complex system of jurisdictional divisions. This has caused conflicts which are now reflected in the quality of the environment and the natural resources of the coastal lagoon/dune system. The main threats to the eco-system are the construction of dams, harbour extension work and tourist developments which are resulting in problems of coastal erosion, water pollution and eutrophication along with changes in the circulation and characteristics of the water. There is therefore a need to develop an integrated approach that can reconcile socioeconomic development with the conservation of the lagoon and its functional characteristics. The current project has been included under the EU Demonstration on Integrated Coastal Zone Management Programme (ICZM, 1996). In Portugal, the administration linked to coastal zone management has been very centralized and public participation has only slowly being integrated into the formulation of management strategies at a local level. The current project therefore aimed to provide a pilot model for the concertation of distinctive interests and coordination of actions between different levels of the administration, key stake holders and the general public in coastal zone management.


The main goal of the Project was to define an Integrated Management Structure for the Ría de Aveiro in order to move towards the sustainable development of the Coastal Zone. It was envisaged that the adoption of this structure, involving the participation and collaboration of wide-ranging interest groups, would provide a model for other similar coastal zones in Europe. The project would achieve the objectives through 3 steps: 1) The first phase would involve the identification and systematization of existing information in order to characterize the current situation in terms of environment and territorial planning using a Geographical Information System (GIS). 2) The second phase consisted in the analysis and evaluation of existing programmes, so as to detect key success and failure factors and identify thematic areas for further intervention. 3) The final phase would involve the definition of the Integrated Management Structure and the identification of future pilot areas and programmes. This final phase was also expected to identify key elements for developing ICZM policies at European level The project anticipated that different partners and stakeholders would be integrated throughout the process, defining and prioritizing key action areas and cooperating in the final definition of the management structure.


The main achievement of the project was in bringing together, for the first time, a wide-range of stakeholders from both the public and private sector in the start of a new partnership over coastal zone management. These partners came from local, regional and national level and integrated institutional representatives as well as NGO´s and other interest groups. The development of this cooperative strategy met with inevitable obstacles related to the existence of serious conflicts of interests and lack of experience in participative planning and cooperative responsibility. This process, however, represents an important preparation by providing insights into the reality of launching an integrated coastal management approach in such areas. In the initial analysis stage, information was drawn together and integrated into the Geographical Information System. However, problems arose over gaining cooperation of over provision of information, the lack of a quality digital cartography base and the non-existence of professionals with adequate training, seriously delaying its implementation. Following this initial stage, different thematic areas were defined to enable more in-depth discussion and to identify problems and define strategies that would make the resolutions of the conflicts possible. These themes included: Territorial Planning, Infrastructures and Equipment, Environment and Environmental Education, Agriculture and Tourism and GIS. These theme areas provided the basis for a set of proposed pilot projects: Recovering existing piers in different channels of the Ria, recuperating salt pans for the production of salt, making agricultural activities compatible with natural habitats and measures for the integrated management of an Area of Protected Landscape. At the end of the final phase the project achieved a commitment on behalf of all the participating partners to “ maintain and intensify” the initiated partnership process through the fomentation of joint programmes and an advancement in the management process. This commitment was formalized through the signing of a “Letter of Principles” by all partners in the final seminar. A formal proposal for an Integrated Management Structure was drawn up and discussed and steps taken to begin the procedure for its acceptance and implementation. Recommendations were made on the need to propitiate trust in the partnership through joint educational and informative activities, the importance of political will and commitment to the process and the need to reinforce such a partnership through more formal organizational structure, appropriately financed. It was also felt that at a European level, a more expeditious procedure should be promoted which combined more flexible legal instruments with some form of economic incentives. This, it was felt, would be more likely to encourage acceptance and effective implementation of ICZM at a European level.


Environmental issues addressed:


Information - Governance - Public and Stakeholders participation
Land-use & Planning - Sensitive and protected areas management


coastal management‚  integrated management‚  public-private partnership‚  conflict of interests‚  social participation

Target EU Legislation

  • Marine environment and Coasts
  • Recommendation 2002/413 EC - "Implementation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Europe" (30 ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Universidade de Aveiro - Departamento de Ambiente e Ordenamento
Type of organisation University
Description The Environmental Department and Planning Department of the University of Aveiro was formed in 1983 and aims to connect teaching and research with the business world and with the community in general. Its research fields cover 10 areas including Environmental Planning and Planning of Natural Resources. The department maintains close relationships with various entities including the Environment and Development Institute (EDI) and with the UNEFOR (Associação Universidade Empresa para a Formação).
Partners Coordination Commission of the Central Region (CCRC) Association of the Municipalities of the RIA – AMRIA The Industrial Association of the District of Aveiro – (AIDA) Administration of the Port of Aveiro (APA) Municipal Councils of Águeda, Albergaria-a-Velha, Aveiro,etc. Environmental Ministry – Regional Administration of the Centre (REAC) Institute for Nature Conservation (ICN) Institute of Hydraulics, Rural and Environmental Engineering (IHERA)


Project reference LIFE96 ENV/P/000601
Duration 01-FEB-1997 to 01-FEB -1999
Total budget 440,692.40 €
EU contribution 208,995.74 €
Project location Centro(Portugal)


Read more:

Brochure Title: Scientific Report Author: Dept of Environment and Planning Year: 2000 No of pages: 33
Brochure Title: Diffusion Report Author: Coastal Zone and Sea Research Centre Year: 1999
CD-ROM Title: CD-Rom: Final Product
Project web site Internet Site
Publication: Case study Title: An integrated Management Programme for Ria de Aveiro (MARIA) Author: Alves, F; Pinto,L; I. Ferreira,I. Et al. Year: 1998 Editor: Book of Abstracts of 6th EUCC
Publication: Case study Title: Participation and Communication: how we deal with it in the MARIA project. Author: Martins F, and Coelho, C. Year: 1999 Editor: Book of Abstracts of INFOCOAST


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version