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In search of coastal zone sustainability by means of social carrying capacity indicators construction: lessons learned from the Thau lagoon case study (Region Languedoc-Roussillon, France)

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This paper aims at shedding new light on sustainability in coastal areas while defining a methodology for constructing social carrying capacity indicators. These indicators evaluate the levels and thresholds related to population growth pressures. From a Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) framework, we centre on the Pressure and State processes and we follow a Principles-Criteria-Indicators (PCI) outline to distinguish the underlying pressures on the coastal zone. The main assumption of this article is that social carrying capacity within the coastal zone needs a multidimensional study by means of a set of indicators. We consider that social carrying capacity indicators provide standards for sustainability, and we identify sustainable and critical levels of pressures. How coastal practitioners and municipal councillors perceive the various challenges and how they use the indicators are assessed. The results show various degrees of involvement and scale misunderstandings on the part of policy makers.

Keywords: ICZM, indicators, integrated coastal zone management, land use, sustainable development, sustainability, social carrying capacity, threshold, France, population growth, policy making

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