Social-Environmental Analysis for the Management of Coastal Lagoons in North Africa

This article was published in Frontiers Environmental Science.

This study provides an overview of 11 lagoons in North Africa, from the Atlantic to the Eastern Mediterranean. Lagoons are complex, transitional, coastal zones providing valuable ecosystem services that contribute to the welfare of the human population.

The main economic sectors in the lagoons included fishing, shellfish harvesting, and salt and sand extraction, as well as maritime transport. Economic sectors in the areas around the lagoons and in the watershed included agriculture, tourism, recreation, industrial, and urban development. Changes were also identified in land use from reclamation, changes in hydrology, changes in sedimentology from damming, inlet modifications, and coastal engineering.

The human activities in and around the lagoons exert multiple pressures on these ecosystems and result in three types of changes: a) changes in the environment, affecting salinity, dissolved oxygen, and erosion; b) changes in the ecology, such as loss of biodiversity; and c) changes in the delivery of valuable ecosystem services.

Loss of ecosystem services such as coastal protection and seafood affect human populations that live around the lagoons and depend on them for their livelihood. Adaptive management frameworks for social-ecological systems provide options that support decision-makers with science-based knowledge to deliver sustainable development for ecosystems. The framework used to support the decision-makers for environmental management of these 11 lagoons is Drivers – Activities – Pressures – State Change – Impact (on Welfare) – Responses (as Measures).



  • A social-environmental analysis of 11 North African coastal lagoons.
  • The behavior of users is similar across North African lagoons.
  • Responses (as measures) to problems are identified.
  • Adaptive management of coastal lagoons can deliver more ecosystem services.

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Figure: Location of North African lagoons. The lagoon names in white on a black background* were analyzed in detail; those in black on white** were not analyzed. The dots show the lagoons in Morocco (red), Algeria (green), Tunisia (blue), Libya (yellow), and Egypt (purple).


Citation: El Mahrad B, Abalansa S, Newton A, Icely JD, Snoussi M and Kacimi I (2020) Social-Environmental Analysis for the Management of Coastal Lagoons in North Africa. Front. Environ. Sci. 8:37. doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2020.00037


Ghar El Melh lagoon, Tunisia. Photo: © DrFO.Jr.Tn, Wikimedia commons