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Lessons On Beach Management Part 1

This article can be most useful if you’re planning to build a beach resort.

The Philippines and most tropical countries are really blessed with beaches that become major tourist destinations. Coupled with emerald waters, swaying coconut trees, and warm sunlight, it can be easy to paint a tropical coastal area as a postcard-pretty, "I-wanna-go-there" place.

For those who have enough money, it can be very tempting to develop every square inch of the coastal area to earn great moolahs from the tourists. But there are some things you should know about responsible beach development in order to protect the resource you’re exploiting.

Get ready for some serious lecture stuff here. You can click that ‘x’ button now if you don’t want to read more of this.

Now, the following terms can be very useful if you really want to appreciate the concept of beach management:

Energy – each wave that hits the coastal area has a corresponding energy. Gentle waves would have low energy level, they’re usually harmless and does very little impact to the beach area. Typhoon-type waves would be very devastating and carry away so much beach materials when they retreat back to the sea.
Velocity (or roughly called speed by many) – the corresponding velocity of a wave or current would be able to carry a particular size of sand particle. The higher velocity, the bigger and more sand particles it can carry.

How beaches are formed
Most people would know that beach materials come from the bottom of the sea. This can be quite true if you see that the beach is white and composed mostly of crushed or ground corals. But there are other sources of beach materials:
by the river – the beach quality may be affected if there is quarrying activity or a dam is built upstream.
From cliffs – the erosion of the cliffs could provide the beach materials
Blown by the wind from another beach area
Nourishment – when man dumps materials to create a beach

On Beach Profiles
Beach profiles are formed by two things: waves (alon) and long-shore current (agos). If the waves bring in the sand materials to the shore, the long-shore current redistributes the sand along the beach.

Things that could go wrong on beach development
If you build structures that cut across the shore into the water (such as solid piers, runways, ports, resort facilities), it will result in the erosion of the sand at one side. In some cases, it results in the erosion of sand in the whole coastal area.

The long-shore current that distributes the sand materials would be abruptly stopped by the structure, it will lose its velocity and consequently the ability to carry sand particles. The current then drops the sand. As the water continues flowing (around the structure), it would regain its velocity and be able to carry sand materials again. Unfortunately, the new batch of sand materials will come from the other side, resulting in erosion.

What to do – do not build anything that will impede the flow of the long-shore current. If you must build something such as piers of cottages, make sure you pile the foundations instead of building a solid one.

If you build structures on the beach area or on the dunes that formed near the beach, chances the sea will erode and you will lose both the beach and your facility.

This is where the value of easement or buffer zone comes in.

Water is a very consistent, powerful, and incorrigible agent of change. As long as it cannot find its equilibrium, or balance, it will continue to change whatever it comes in contact with. You can see a lot of examples in beach areas in many countries.

As I wrote above, each wave would have it own energy level and velocity. As a wave hits the beach, it will travel inland until its energy is dissipated, then it goes back to the sea. Should there be an equilibrium, the waves would not be able to carry away sand from the beach (thus, maintaining its quality). Depending on the wave energy, the distance needed for the wave to travel inland without making any damage would be between 20-50 meters (or longer in some areas)

The problem would come in when somebody starts to build permanent facilities at the beach area (or any point before the wave energy dissipates). So try to imagine a wave that hits inland but is blocked by a structure before it completely loses its energy. When it retreats to the sea, it would still have enough energy to carry sand particles which then results to what we call “scouring” This causes erosion, and consequently, the decrease in the quality of the beach area.

I hope this little lesson on beach management would help enlighten the minds of the moneyed people who have the power to change our coastal areas, for better or for worse.


1 comment:

  1. Short but very informative. this part, incorporates well the engineering, geology, and the tourism aspects of the beach.
    Very good for a primer!
    Whats for part 2?