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Outline Hawar Master Plan


Hawar Islands National Marine Park

Guidelines for proposed Ecosystem based Management System and Zoning Plans

 Discussion paper


By Howard King
January 2002

(Draft outline)

Introduction

The most important mechanism used in the international treaties covering Hawar was the inclusion of an obligation to establish “Protected Areas” to protect natural habitats and apply a code of conduct for their management. The Islands of Hawar and Ras Sanad were the sites nominated as protected areas by Bahrain on ratification of the Ramsar agreement on 26 February 1997 (Amiri decree No. 3 1997). The extent of the obligations as outlined in Ramsar and CBD conventions commits Bahrain legally to facilitate the protection of natural habitats and biodiversity. It is clear that even though the effectiveness of these obligations may be hard to quantify locally, they have become an important tool elsewhere in protecting the world's biological diversity.

The relatively rapid and recent development on Hawar has not been accompanied by a corresponding growth in any management capacity for the Islands. The agencies charged with the management and administration of Bahrain’s obligations under International Conventions have failed to provide any meaningful “Codes of Conduct” for the Islands management. The successful outcome of the ICJ hearings has now brought social and economic issues into sharp focus. The allocation of protected status for the Islands and a lack of previous resolve to establish management tools now heighten conflict over access, use and control of the Hawar protected area.

Minimizing conflicts

Proposed development strategies as outlined in the conceptual “Hawar Master Plan” are based on the utilization of Hawar’s Western coastal zone. The coastal zones of Hawar contain all the Islands most productive ecosystems and richest biodiversity and are highly sensitive areas where ecosystems exist in a state of natural balance. Loosely defined, the coastal zone includes both the area of land subject to marine influences and the area of the sea subject to land influences. For a small island archipelago such Hawar, all land can therefore be regarded as being in the coastal zone. Coastal zone are divided into three interactive main components with fluctuating boundaries: the sea, the beach, and the land behind the beach.

Whatever the extent, coastal zones are not isolated systems; pollutants sediments resulting from inland activities migrate to the coast, where they degrade the health of the coastal zone. Water currents carry these pollutants and debris from coastal activities such as reclamation and the dumping of waste from one coastal zone to another. The health of one ecosystem is therefore closely tied to the health and condition of others. The management of coastal zones is therefore of necessity, a multidisciplinary effort and has to encompass the concepts of an integrated ecosystem-based management and sustainable development system for all the Islands not just the area outlined for development
°    Integrated ecosystem-based management requires balancing a wide range of ecological, social, cultural and economic considerations.
°    Sustainable development requires the use of resources, economic policies, technological development and institutional structures that are in harmony with and enhance current and future potential for human progress.
Ecosystem-based management systems should therefore be regarded as the dynamic process that seeks to organize human use of ecosystems in order to strike a balance between benefiting from the natural resources available from an ecosystem’s components and processes, while maintaining an ecosystem’s ability to provide or support these at a sustainable level.

Ecosystem-based management systems

°    Recognize the inevitability of change
°    Balance the various natural and human resources required from the zone with sustainable multiple use and conservational needs.
°    Accept that active research and monitoring programs play a key role in providing management options
°    Provide flexibility to adapt positively to the results and potential consequences of development in favour of environmental issues
°    Provides for the sequential and geographic zoning of the protected area to
°    Ensure the protection of wildlife reserve
°    Protects sensitive resources from overuse
°    Separate conflicting development, visitor and conservational uses

Management Tools for the Ecosystem-based management system

Operational Plan

Describes the management intent and operation of the Hawar Authority in managing “The Hawar Master Plan and Wildlife Reserve” in conjunction with other policy and wildlife protection instruments in delivering the objective of national, economic, social and conservation requirements for Hawar. It should have the force of law as its statutory instrument and provide

°    A clear statement of objectives, rationale, categories, definitions and future directions for Hawar
°    Assessment of future institutional framework for the Hawar protected area
°    Assessment of conservation status, condition and management viability of the Islands
°    A clear basis for integration and coordination of the protected areas with other aspects of national planning
°    Clear priorities for further evolution of the protected area
°    Procedures for deciding the management category most appropriate to each existing and proposed zone
°    Procedures for designing the protected areas to make zoning coverage more fully meet desirable zone characteristics
°    Identification of investment needs and priorities for the Islands
°    Identification of training and human resource development needs for the protected area management
°    Guidelines for preparation and implementation of management policies and site-level management plans

Master plan
 
Describes the (conceptual/theoretical or physical) intent of the planning authorities in outlining future development for the Islands. For the Master Plan to be effective it should evolve out of the constructive partnership between the people of Bahrain and the Authorities charged with its implementation. The adoption and implementation of the plan should however remain the responsibility of a single authority although many others may have contributed to its initiation, development and implementation. The Hawar Master must be seen to
°    Adhere to national obligations and commitments as outlined by Amiri Decrees, International Declarations and Convention Ratification covering The Hawar protected area.
°    Deal with the major issues for species and biodiversity management such as to satisfy ‘A Sustainable development Policy" in accordance with Agenda 21 of the Biodiversity Convention articles 6 and 8
°    Advocate sustainable use through the use of alternative technologies and materials
°    Provide a vision for Hawar and describe how Hawar, in particular its coastal and marine habitats are to be managed
°    Define all development, planning and architectural constraints
°    Encourage all to use coastal zones wisely so they continue to contribute to our lifestyles and livelihoods as well as maintaining their intrinsic values
°    Set an example as a regional development management plan for a protected area
°    Define specific geographic areas or zones with boundaries so as to control development with lateral spatial separation from core areas of primary scientific value
°    Use an Ecosystem-based management Coastal Zone Management system

Zoning Plan

Describes the process of allocating areas for particular uses to provide varying levels of protection for different areas of Hawar. Zoning allows potentially conflicting activities to be separated and provides for specific activities such as development, nature-based tourism and scientific study. The Zoning Plan must classify zones covering all Hawar and integrated sea areas for different uses.

The Zoning Plan should also contain a description of the activities that are permitted or not permitted in each zone, including any restrictions

°    Activity Specific Management Plan - developed in consultation with stakeholders to effectively manage specific activities
°    Codes of Conduct - guidelines for undertaking certain activities, which are the regulations to be adopted by industries, developers, visitors and groups.
°    Authority and Consent – process for obtaining permission from the Hawar Authority to undertake a particular activities
 
Zoning in protected areas is an effective way of managing an area of conservational value and its resources in association with ecologically sustainable use

°    Conserve biodiversity for future research, education, use and enjoyment
°    Provide insurance against widespread loss or change in ecosystems, habitats or species
°    Protect processes critical to ecosystem function and use;
°    Protect rare, threatened and depleted communities, species and populations
°    Provide for the recovery of degraded marine environments;
°    Improve fisheries stocks by protecting habitat and nursery areas, preserving genetic diversity, dispersing larvae and adults to surrounding areas
°    Supplement fisheries through spill over of fish into fishing grounds
°    Create employment through sustainable use, recreation and tourism

In addition, the partial or total restriction on destructive or extractive activities in some zones is a key strategy to facilitate research and monitoring associated with maintaining a healthy environment. The creation of scientific and sanctuary areas with reduced human impacts provide a level of insurance by putting something aside for the future. Additionally scientists require sanctuaries to compare and understand the impacts of development and human activities in adjacent Zones.

Protected areas cannot be sustainable unless they have a broad social acceptance. Resource management conflicts, inequities or impacts do not go away simply because an area is given protected status. The success of protected areas is inextricably linked with sustainable management of the whole landscape and of improvement in the sustainability of all human activity in that environment. The irreversibility of species extinction through habitat degradation and over-exploitation will compromise options for present and future use. Without an effective strategy for ecosystem conservation that implements ecologically effective, socially beneficial and economically viable ecosystem management practices, the future of Hawar, as a Protected Area is doubtful.

Current and potential threats to Hawar Ecosystems include

°    Changes to the Natural tidal flushing regime
°    Sediment input resulting from land clearing or reclamation from development
°    Disturbance of coastal vegetation and substrate through urban and marine development, including, jetties, boat ramps and pontoons
°    Altered coastal flow characteristics through vegetation loss and engineering works
°    Damage to coastal vegetation and substrate from trampling, vehicles and other human impact
°    Damage to marine vegetation from boat propellers, traps and nets
°    Over fishing by recreational and commercial fishers if not banned
°    Coastal erosion from recurring boat wash in areas of heavy vessel traffic or higher vessel speed
°    Exploration and extraction hydrocarbons
°    Chemical pollution and nutrient inputs from golf courses, urban parks and home gardens
°    Nutrient inputs from sewage effluent disposal from septic tank overflow or licensed discharges
°    Discarded rubbish and inappropriate disposal of garbage
°    Touristic developments

Clear provisions are necessary in the planning process to support monitoring at the level of individual protected areas or species and to facilitate the gathering and analysis of appropriate data that will permit evaluation of performance of the system as a whole.

Because monitoring has often not been undertaken in the past, we have little capacity to demonstrate currently whether the protected area has necessarily achieved any, some or all of its’ purposes. This could in turn seriously compromises justification of a protected area program as a priority. Incorporation of effective mechanisms for promoting and coordinating research, monitoring and evaluation are therefore important in
°    Building and maintaining support for protected areas
°    Devising and refining effective management strategies and practices
°    Identifying and/or reforming institutions to enhance management performance
°    Making tradeoffs between optimal arrangements for protected areas and the needs and interests of other stakeholders who may have or claim an interest in the same areas
°    Making informed choices among strategic options for disposition or management of the network of protected areas

Hawar Master Plan (draft)

Objectives

The Hawar master plan should have the force of law as its statutory instrument and provide in lieu of an outlined strategy
°    Use an Ecosystem-based management system
°    Define specific geographic areas or zones with boundaries so as to control development with lateral spatial separation from core areas of primary scientific value
°     A vision for Hawar and describe how Hawar, in particular its coastal and marine habitats are to be managed
°    Deal with the major issues for species and biodiversity management
°    Encourage all to use coastal zones wisely so they continue to contribute to our lifestyles and livelihoods as well as maintaining their intrinsic values
°    Set an example as a regional development management plan for a protected area
°    Advocate sustainable use and development through the use of alternative technologies and materials

United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) approach to ecosystem-based management is that:

Ecosystem and natural habitats management seeks to meet human requirements to use natural resources, whilst maintaining the biological richness and ecological processes necessary to sustain the composition, structure and function of the habitats or ecosystems concerned. Important within this process is the setting of explicit goals and practices, regularly updated in the light of the results of monitoring and research activities.

It also has to be recognised that people are an essential and integral part of Ecologically Sustainable Development and that ecosystem functions are the result of plants and animals (including humans) interacting with each other and with the physical components of their environment. The Hawar master plan therefore, should seek to use an Ecosystem-based management system that attempts to regulate the use of Hawar’s ecosystems so that we can benefit from them while at the same time minimising the impacts of development upon them so that their basic ecosystem functions are preserved

Ecosystem-based management seeks to organize human use of ecosystems in order to strike a balance between benefiting from the natural resources available from an ecosystem’s components and processes, while maintaining an ecosystem’s ability to provide these at a sustainable level.

Ecosystem-based management as recommended by the IUCN – The World Conservation Union
provides

°    Flexibility in approach, in order to adapt to continually changing situations and conditions
°    Is only partly about ecological sciences. It has much to do with gaining an appreciation of the economic, social and cultural factors affecting the communities concerned with an ecosystem management project
°    Encourages public and community participation at all stages of project development and implementation – an extremely important factor for success.

The World Commission on Environment and Development in its Agenda 21 (1992):

°    Defined the essential features of environmental systems
°    Highlighted the constraints on using these environmental systems
°    Promulgated an approach that required that evaluation of alternatives be undertaken to determine how ecosystem products services may benefit people without jeopardizing the functional integrity of the systems concerned.

All International bodies however advise that

°    In recognition of the inevitability of change is critically important in ecosystem-based management that consideration of sequential and geographic zoning be used to ensure the protection of wildlife reserve resources as a management tool to protect sensitive resources from overuse and to separate conflicting development and visitor uses.

Zoning is the process of allocating areas for particular uses. It allows potentially conflicting activities to be separated and provides for specific activities such as development, nature-based tourism and scientific study. In addition, the partial or total restriction of fishing and other extractive activities in some zones is a key strategy to facilitate research and monitoring associated with maintaining a healthy environment. Sanctuaries areas provide a level of insurance by putting something aside for the future and scientists need sanctuaries to compare and understand the impacts of development and human activities in adjacent Zones.
 
Environmental and management benefits gained from sanctuaries and areas of reduced human impacts are greatest when:

°    The amount of human disturbance is minimised;
°    The zones are located to include representative portions of all habitat types;
°    The zones are replicated so that all habitat types fall within more than one restricted area;
°    The zones are either large or surrounded by zones with low impacts.

The Zoning Plans

The zoning Plans for Hawar will operate in conjunction with other policy and wildlife protection instruments in delivering the objective of national, economic, social and conservation requirements for Hawar to:
°    Provide for the protection, conservation, rehabilitation and management of Hawar, including its resources and biological diversity
°    Provide, in conjunction with other legislation, a coordinated and integrated management and administrative framework for the ecologically sustainable development of Hawar
°    Encourage the enhancement of knowledge of Hawar’s resources and the effect of human activities on Hawar

Statement from IUCN
 “Protected areas will not be sustainable unless they have broad social commitment. This will not be forthcoming unless people's fundamental needs are met. Land use and resource management conflicts, inequities or impacts do not go away simply because an area is given protected status. Being the creations of nation states or related entities, protected area boundaries often inevitably reflect sovereignty and tenure as much as the environment types and systems of nature. For all these reasons, protected areas must be coordinated with use and management of all other areas rather than be treated in isolation. The success of protected areas is inextricably linked with sustainable management of the whole landscape and of improvement in the sustainability of all human activity in the environment.”

Guide to Zones

General Use  - Development Zone

An area of both land and sea identified to provide the major development area within the Master plan area. The least restrictive of the zones, allowing for reasonable but sympathetic development including specific commercial or recreational activities that are consistent with and directed by the region's long term planning and conservation policy.
All development will be structured and controlled by the design restraints implicit in the Master plan and by environmental impact assessments. Coastal strip housing/subdivisions and development will be restricted to provide public access areas to extensive areas of continuous sea front. The master plan will define broad public areas of access to the shore that are a continuation or projections (corridors) from and connected to the adjacent Buffer zone.
Proposals for all development plus any activity not considered by the master plan will be subject approval from the Hawar authority and thence to an environmental impact assessment. In instances, where planned activities are allowed, developers/investors shall plan and carry them out in such manner that will minimise any adverse effects and take preventive and remedial action when appropriate. The onus will be on the developer/investor to show compliance - with failure liable to prosecution and restitution fees for any damage due to lack of caution or indiscretion
The commercial collection of any species (flora or fauna) will not be permitted in any zone. Therefore contributing to the protection of biological diversity and ecological processes, consistent with the objectives of the Hawar protected area.
Hunting including Falconry and the trapping by any means of all birds and animals will not be permitted in any zone. Offenders risk prosecution under Bahrain's wildlife protection laws
Sports fishing within the seaward extent of this zone will be restricted to fishing by line and hook, when trolling for pelagic species only one line may be used per person. Prohibited sports fishing activities will be by fishing using nets underwater traps and spear fishing using gun or gaff hook. Offenders risk prosecution under Bahrain's wildlife protection laws
Commercial fishing will be prohibited, offenders risk prosecution under Bahrain's wildlife protection laws and confiscation of boat and equipment.
Domesticated and companion animals (Dogs cats, rabbits mice etc or birds) are not permitted within any zone of Hawar unless they are assisting a disabled person. Animals brought in on vessels are confined to that vessel.
Horse riding will be permitted in this zone but free range grazing by any horses and other permitted domesticated or farm animal will not be allowed. Stay or offending animals will be impounded and owners subject to penalty. The collection of naturally growing or native plant material for fodder for domesticated animals is not permitted in any zone.
The removal or collection of seaweed from beaches is permitted within the general use zones only. For collections of more than 20 kilograms a day requiring the use of mechanical means, a special permit will be required from the Hawar Authority.
The cleaning of fish or fishing gear is not permitted in any zones, other than at the designated cleaning locations approved by the Hawar Authority. This is to address the issue of large amounts of fish scraps entering these habitats. Such scraps have the potential to increase the numbers of scavenger species, decrease quantities of other species thus producing a change in species composition or structure over time.
Special development. Projects of reasonable use, that cause disturbance or changes to the natural tidal flushing regime will be subject to in all instances to the most stringent of environmental impact assessments. Such development must be consistent with the vision for the area implicit in the Hawar Master Plan All development must minimise any adverse environmental effects and take preventive and remedial action. The onus will be on the developer/investor to show compliance - with failure liable to prosecution and restitution fees for any damage due to lack of caution or indiscretion.
General shipping is prohibited and any activity culturally alien to Hawar/Bahrain will not be allowed
Horse riding on beaches will be restricted to specific areas or bridleways defined and controlled in the zone by the Hawar authority.
Seasonal restrictions in these areas will be applied if required to reduce disturbance to any wildlife, their feeding or breeding requirements.

Buffer Zones (BZ)
 An area of land or sea, where the interaction of people and nature over time has/or will produce an area of distinctive character with significant aesthetic, ecological and/or cultural value with a high biological diversity. Such zones should enclose all historic and archaeological sites with the minimum clearance as specified in the Master Plan.
Safeguarding the integrity of this human interaction with nature in Buffer zones is vital to the protection, maintenance integrity and evolution of the entire Wildlife Reserve in particular core areas of high scientific value.
These areas provide open public access into the protected areas of the Wildlife Reserves to allow opportunities for their appreciation and enjoyment.
These areas should be managed to maintain the harmonious interaction of nature & culture through the protection of landscape and/or seascape and the continuation of traditional land uses with limited economic activities.
All activities and any permitted development must
°    be in harmony with nature and the preservation of the social and cultural fabric of the community
°    maintain the diversity of landscape and habitat and of associated species and ecosystems
°    be of an appropriate scale and/or character to provide opportunities for public enjoyment through recreation and tourism.
°    encourage scientific and educational activities which will contribute to the development of public support for the environmental protection of Hawar
°    bring benefits to and contribute to the welfare of the local community through the provision of natural products
°    be subject to the most rigorous environmental impact assessment that includes any additional/further scientific studies required as specified by the Hawar authorities to complete that assessment
Coastal line fishing will be allowed in designated areas but all other recreational fishing and collecting activities will be prohibited, as well as all those activities not allowed in General Use “Development Zone”
The mode of access to the buffer zone will be restricted to licensed/permitted private automobile, public transportation, bicycle, horse and foot travel (hiking). By boat on surface waters by licensed and permitted operators only or personal non-motorized carrier.
°    Vehicular traffic will be restricted through a system of permits and limited to a few specified tracks and public service operators only. Failure to comply to the general rules of movements within the zone will result in prosecution and loss of permit to enter zones. Any and all off road/track activities will be prohibited.
°    Waterborne traffic will be restricted through a system of permits and limited to a few specified routes and operators only. Landing at prohibited sites and failure to comply to the general restrictions on movement will result in prosecution and loss of permit to enter zones. Access restrictions will include no-access buffer zones, no-motor zones, idle speed only/no wake zones, and closed zones.
°    Other motorised water-based recreation activities such as boating with inboard, outboard and jet boat, jet skiing, water-skiing, para-sailing etc. will not permitted.
Walking cycling and horse riding will be actively encouraged through the creation and maintenance of tracks, bridleways and marked routes. Necessary restrictions on movement across open areas will be imposed to preserve and protect the integrity of the natural flora and fauna.   
Canoeing, sailing, boating (non-motorised) Sail boarding (windsurfing) will be encouraged and permitted in designated areas. Entry into and across internal Wildlife Reserve Zones will be subject to issuance of permits and seasonal restrictions.

Wildlife Reserve Zone (WRZ)
Areas of “No Development” within the Protected Area with only restricted licensed escorted public access, providing for the appreciation and enjoyment of the zone in its’ undisturbed state, - a “Look but Don't Touch or Take” zone. Fishing and all other activities, which remove natural resources are prohibited as well as all those activities not allowed in General Use “Developement Zone and Buffer zones”
These areas are designed to encompass large, contiguous and diverse habitats. They are intended to provide natural spawning, nursery and permanent residence areas for the replenishment and genetic protection of terrestrial and marine life. To protect and preserve all habitats and species particularly those not protected by fishery or existing wildlife regulations. These reserves are intended to protect areas that represent the full range of diversity of resources and habitats found throughout the protected area of Hawar. The intent is to meet these objectives by limiting consumptive activities, while continuing to allow activities that are compatible with resource protection. This will provide the opportunity for these areas to continue to evolve in a natural state, with the minimum of human influence. These zones surround and protect core sanctuary areas that provide important habitats for sustaining natural resources such as fish, birds and invertebrates.
The main purpose of Wildlife Reserve Zone is to protect biodiversity by setting aside areas with minimal human disturbance. These zones will serve to protect and enhance the spawning, nursery or permanent resident areas of fish and other marine life. Hundreds of marine species are not protected by any form of management and the Wildlife Reserve Zones will provide protection and allow areas to remain in their natural state. These areas will additionally protect the food and home of commercially and recreationally important species of marine life.
These areas are established to minimise disturbance to especially sensitive wildlife populations and their habitats to ensure protection and preservation consistent with the Sanctuary designation and other applicable laws governing the protection and preservation of wildlife resources in the Sanctuary. Such areas include bird nesting, resting, or feeding areas, turtle and Dugong feeding areas in addition to potential nesting beaches. Regulations governing access are designed to protect endangered or threatened species or their habitats, while providing opportunities for public use.
No Development is permitted in these zones.
Entry into and across the Zones by land or sea will be subject to issuance of permits and seasonal restrictions.
Public access will only be available through the services of local guides or licensed tour operators and restricted to controlled routes of access and controlled visitation limits. Further seasonal restrictions in these areas will be applied to prevent any disturbance to wildlife, their feeding or breeding requirements and based on
°    Differences between species in sensitivity to disturbance;
°    Critical approach distances;
°    Desertion;
°    Shifts in colony distribution;
°    Delayed breeding;
°    Predation including human predation;
°    Exposure;
°    Stampedes;
°    Interruption to feeding;
°    Stress effects and habituation.

Preservation and Scientific Research Zone (PSR)
Areas set aside exclusively for scientific research with public entry prohibited and use for all other reasons prohibited. Scientific research will be under license providing for the preservation of the zone in a completely undisturbed state.  The management philosophy for these areas will be determined by their primary function, the undertaking of scientific research.
Further studies that provide managers and decision makers with information that increase our understanding of the natural variability of the Islands its’ ecosystems and response to natural or anthropogenic disturbances should be financed by the Hawar Authorities
°    Research at the ecosystem level to achieve and maintain the overall protection of the reserve
°    Monitor and recommend changes to the system of classification and zoning based on habitat classification and conservation status as defined by hard scientific data
°    Monitor conservation and reasonable use so that while the ecosystems are protected, opportunities are still provided for sustainable use and enjoyment of the reserve
°    Increase public participation and community involvement in the protection of the reserve through education and information
The Hawar authorities should provide information systems and services that meet the needs and priorities that will
°    Provide environmental advice for Impact studies
°    Integrate co-operation between other organisations with an interest or role in the management of the Wildlife Reserve
°    Enhance data exchange with International organisations that have a vested interest in the reserve