Dorset-Solent area, English South Coast

Collaboration, partnership and spatial planning as tools to increase land-sea synergies

Local Economy Development
Marine Spatial Planning
A region example for its collaborative approach of coastal management based on a cross-sectoral stakeholders engagement to define a common strategy for the sustainable development of their region with a global vision of the land-sea system, using spatial planning tools to increase land-sea synergies
The Dorset County is centrally located on the south coast of England. Agriculture (covering 80% of land area), fishery, port & shipping, marine industry, oil & gas extraction, water sport activities, and tourism activities have developed in a natural landscape of high value. Over half of the county is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and three-quarters of its coastline is part of the Jurassic Coast Natural World Heritage Site due to its geological and paleontological significance. On the East side of Dorset region, the Solent area lies in front of the Isle of Wight in the mainland of England with Portsmouth as an important port, the maritime industry is dominant (shipping, ports, leisure, marine manufacturing, and the military). The area is also of great ecological and landscape importance for its coastal and estuarine habitats, with a RAMSAR site, a national park, and a special area of conservation. The coexistence of high economic activities with an ecosystem of high value makes conflicts highly likely.




  • Stakeholders conflict
  • Lack of cooperation
  • Lack of information/education
  • Lack of a scientific / policy interface to support management decisions


Two good examples of how coastal management strategies can increase land-sea synergies are provided by the Solent forum and the Dorset coast forum. In the UK, the well-developed planning and management systems on land contrast with the sectoral approach at sea. The UK Government recognised the need for an extension of the ethos of planning and management strategy into the coastal zone and recommended that local authorities take a lead role with other agencies and interest groups in coordinating the preparation of coastal management plans.

The Dorset Coast Forum (DCF) is an independent strategic coastal partnership, which looks at the long-term, broad-scale issues facing the Dorset coast and its inshore waters. It promotes a sustainable approach to the management, use, and development of Dorset’s coastal zone to ensure that its inherent natural and cultural qualities are maintained and enhanced for the benefit of future generations. Members include local authorities, fishing representatives, commercial businesses, environmental, recreational, historical, maritime, business and tourism sectors, and charities. DCF provided the needed platform to support the development of a strategy for the sustainable management of open coastlines, bringing together the coastal and the marine area by involving a broad range of local interests. and being used as a mechanism for communication. Today DCF is a major actor in the region with over a thousand members and is a central organisation for the sustainable development of the area based on coastal synergies and stakeholders' collaboration, formalized in the Dorset Coast Strategy, as well as being involved in many other coastal initiatives (coastal defense, waste management, environmental awareness, and education projects) and by providing additional services:

  • Provide a neutral platform for discussion
  • Disseminate relevant data and information to our members
  • Design and deliver innovative projects
  • Provide effective stakeholder engagement
  • Organise and facilitate workshops
  • Empower communities to tackle coastal issues affecting them
  • Provide educational material to schools, businesses, and communities
  • Enable networking opportunities through conferences and events
  • Work effectively on issues and opportunities for the coast using our members' knowledge and expertise to deliver results
  • Facilitate conflict resolution on coastal issues


As a mark of success, the Dorset strategy and the forum have been taken as models by other coastal organizations. (LIFE96 ENV/UK/000401) The Solent Forum offers a similar example of how an independent partnership brought together stakeholders from the land and the sea and became the main instrument for ICZM issues in the region. The Solent Forum developed a ‘strategic guidance’ which acted as a catalyst to bring together the various sectors and stakeholders with an interest in the Solent to strategically discuss the future management needs of the area, which, it raises awareness and understanding of each sector (help resolving conflicts), and promotes cross-sectoral activities. The forum is a platform for data sharing, facilitates better consultation, communication, and liaison, and brings together data and research to aid policy-making and management decisions.