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"Canarias, Por Una Costa Viva" (Canaries, For An Alive Coast) An educational and research initiative to enhance the sustainable use of the Canarian coasts

Ricardo Haroun Tabraue and Yaiza Fernández-Palacios Vallejo
Mediateca Guiniguada. Camino de Salvago s/n. Campus de Tafira - 35017. 
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. 
Tel: +34 928 457 455 
Fax. +34 928 457 457
Guided trips to the seashore are some of the activities run by the project.
Gymnothorax miliaris. Databases are used to keep and manage the sampling results.
The display panels at the exhibition are colourful and attractive to visitors.
Sampling sea grasses.  New data for the Canarian list of endangered species will be generated.
Project mascots Menuda and Chinijo (the local words for a small boy and girl).

The aim of this project is to promote awareness of the biological and socio-economic values of the Canarian coastline among coastal users. Other underlying objectives include designing best practices for management and sustainable use of the littoral resources. The working team has two complementary divisions: research and education, which incorporate a large social facet. This is a new and fresh approach to littoral issues, at least in Spain.

"Canarias, por una Costa Viva" is fully supported by the Spanish Ministry of Environment and is run by the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in conjunction with WWF-ADENA. Collaboration with the Canarian Institute of Marine Sciences, the University of La Laguna, Regional and Insular Agencies and some private companies enrich the actions and outputs. The project started in August 2002 and will end in November 2004.

Research The objectives of the research division are to: Analyse the characteristics and environmental quality of the marine biological communities. Determine the conservation status of selected marine species and ecosystems. Analyse the relationship between the human population and the natural environment as well as the pressures it supports. Study ecological processes in intertidal and shallow subtidal ecosystems.

The research activities are carried out with sampling every six months in over 100 sites around the coastlines of the overall Canary Islands. Marine biodiversity and water and sediment quality are measured following standard research protocols. Sampled areas include: rocky intertidal areas, brown algae forests, sea-urchin barren grounds and seagrass meadows. Sampling sites are in both pristine and anthropogenically stressed areas, in order to assess the effects of the different pressures (pollution, shell fishing activity, urban development, marinas, etc.).

At the end of the project an assessment of the environmental quality of coastal areas in the Canary Islands will be produced. Littoral environmental quality bioindicators and inputs to the Canarian list of endangered species are only some of the results which will contribute to the generation of tools for ICZM in the Canary Islands.

Education The education division works to: Raise public awareness of the environmental and natural values of the Canarian coastline. Support the education of the Canarian population and visitors towards the sustainable use of the natural resources. Enhance public participation in diverse coastal activities. Develop a full range of educational tools for diverse social groups (schools, handicapped collectives, silver-age groups, etc.).

These objectives are mainly achieved through three different types of actions: an exhibition, the design of educational materials and activities with social groups.

The exhibition created by "Canarias, por una Costa Viva" includes display panels, models and an aquarium, which explain details not only about the tides, biodiversity and different coastal landscapes, but also about the traditional and modern activities developed in the coast and the conservation and management issues related to them. The exhibition will be on display in the principal cities and villages within the seven islands. It will be the focal point for different educational activities carried out by "Canarias, por una Costa Viva" staff. Two pets, Menuda (a jellyfish) and Chinijo (a crab), introduce the visitors to the coast. Its great fun to see children's' faces along the visit!

Educational materials have been designed for students from primary school level to university, as well as accompanying materials for teachers. The contents refer to the natural values of the Canarian littoral and are complemented by visits to the exhibition and guided trips to the intertidal area.

Activities with social groups are based on a volunteering network which will achieve joint activities like talks, cleaning of beaches, snorkelling, littoral walks or collaborations with the research sampling activities. The aim is to strengthen the relation of different social groups with the natural environment and to create a common objective: the protection of the coast.


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