Implications of adopting a biodiversity-based vulnerability index versus a shoreline environmental sensitivity index on management and policy planning along coastal areas
In this study, a multi-criteria index was developed to assess anthropogenic stressors along the Mediterranean coastline. The index aimed at geo-locating pollution hotspots for informed decision making related to coastal zone management. The index was integrated in a Geographical Information System based geodatabase implemented at several pilot areas along the Northern (Italy and France), Eastern (Lebanon), and Southern (Tunisia) Mediterranean coastlines. The generated stressor maps were coupled with a biodiversity richness index and an environmental sensitivity index to produce vulnerability maps that can form the basis for prioritizing management and mitigation interventions towards the identification of pollution hotspots and the promotion of sustainable coastal zone management. The results identified significant differences between the two assessment methods, which can bias prioritization in decision making and policy planning depending on stakeholders' interests. The discrepancies emphasize the need for transparency and understanding of the underlying foundations behind vulnerability indices and mapping development.