Strategic management and planning within estuaries seeks to identify a framework that enshrines sustainability. Any management initiative must address the issues of long-term change; physical, chemical and biological interactions; and system response (including socio-economic interactions). Achieving such a programme will need to take advantage of studies and research at a number of different spatial and temporal scales. These range from global climate change initiatives, through catchment and estuary wide studies to work on specific features (banks, mud flats, etc.). They necessarily consider changes over time scales of seconds to aeons. For strategic planning and management, the goal is to be able to predict change, with a reasonable degree of confidence over a 20 to 50 year time horizon. Given the highly non-linear and complex adaptive nature of estuary systems, absolute predictions may not be possible. Rather, it will be necessary to identify probable/possible outcomes, or system states, as a basis for guiding management actions. This, in itself, will require managers and planners to move away from a prescriptive interventionist approach towards a more adaptive one.
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Vol. 10 • No. 1