Coastal planning and management are experiencing a number of changes that point toward a major shift in emphasis from development to conservation. In this process, natural environments and processes traditionally perceived as hazardous to human occupation will be redefined in terms of being resources to protect for the benefit of present and future generations. This process, however, is neither universal nor conflict free because development pressures maintain their strength in many parts of the world. This article examines the current situation of four lowland coastal areas located in Catalonia, Spain. The transition from development to conservation, and its reflection in planning and management practices is examined for each case in light of the social appraisal of coastal environments and processes as either resources or hazards. We conclude that this appraisal depends strongly on the historical trajectory of each area, the effectiveness of new legal and planning instruments, and the political will of institutions and social agents present in each area. © 1997 Taylor & Francis Inc.
- Coastal zone