Today the coast is one of the most threatened and fragile areas in the world. These territories are extremely rich in resources which exploitation causes concentration of population and lands uses. This provokes a high impact in environment and landscape, jeopardizing the resources themselves. The island territories are especially sensitive to this kind of processes due to their limited and eminently coastal condition.
In Spain, the land use is regulated by urban and regional planning. In this sense it is necessary to establish criteria concerning this kind of planning in order to guarantee the sustainable development of the coast. The spatial planning guidelines for the Canaries coast are a very good example of this applied to an island territory. The Guidelines provide the criteria for the sustainable urban planning of the Canaries archipelago, whit the aim of reducing the urban and infrastructural pressure in the coast, as well as its regeneration, recuperation and conditioning for the public use. The measures proposed are focused on establishing the land use according to its loading capacity, respecting both the dynamics of natural processes and the patrimonial and landscape values. The Guidelines also create an instrument for their own development, the Coastal Observatory. This is a specific agency responsible for collecting, developing and disseminating all the information related to the coast. The aim of the Observatory is to set up the propitious scenery and organ for sustainable and coordinated decision-making about the planning, management and monitoring of the coastal area.