Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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UNESCO chooses Anguilla
to launch new guides on beach erosion

Anguilla - On 13th February the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) publishes the first of nine booklets to help Caribbean islanders offset the potentially devastating effects of beach erosion. And, as the first booklet is tailor-made for Anguilla, UNESCO has chosen The Valley, Anguilla, for its launch.

In Caribbean islands like Anguilla, the coastline plays an important role in island life, and also contributes to the economy through tourism and fisheries. Yet beaches are continually changing, adapting to natural forces, including the annual battering from tropical storms and hurricanes. Poorly planned construction, sand mining and even sea defences, can disturb fragile beach ecosystems, accelerating erosion and worsening the impact of natural disasters. During the hurricanes of 1995, 1998 and 1999, many of the beaches suffered serious erosion, and although some recovery has taken place, in most cases they have not returned to pre-1995 levels.

But there are ways we can help to slow down the rate of erosion. The Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources have been measuring Anguilla's beaches since 1992, and now they, together with the Department of Physical Planning, are well placed to provide advice on dealing with beach erosion. They know, for example, the recommended 'coastal setback distances' - i.e. the 'safe' distance from the coastline you need to consider building your house, hotel or business - for each part of the island's coastline. So UNESCO teamed up with the Department of Physical Planning, as well as the Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources in Anguilla, the University of Puerto Rico Sea Grant College Program and the Caribbean Development Bank to produce the first of its booklets on 'Wise practices for coping with beach erosion'. This free, 10-page booklet is filled with practical information on the state of Anguilla's beaches and how to cope with their ever-changing nature.

According to Dr Gillian Cambers, consultant for UNESCO, "Since 1995, the Atlantic Basin (including the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico) has entered a more active hurricane cycle, which may continue for more than 20 years. So we hope that the very specific guidance given in these booklets will help islanders to be better prepared." Severe hurricanes (categories 3, 4 and 5) increased four-fold, from 1 per year between 1990-1994, to 4 per year in the period from 1995-1999.

Other booklets in the series will be published throughout the year for the other islands belonging to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Launch details: 13th February 2002, 5.00pm, Library, The Valley, Anguilla

For immediate release contact :
Sharon Roberts Hodge
Government of Anguilla
Department of Physical Planning
The Valley, Anguilla
T: +1 264 497 5392
F: +1 264 497 5924
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