|Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
PROGRAMME PLANNING FOR SUSTAINABLE BEACH MANAGEMENT
Planning and legislation
Following the panel discussion on 'Regional initiatives relating to beach management and coastal zone management', three working groups were established during the afternoon session of 23rd October, 1996, to consider the goal 'Sustainable beach management by the year 2001 - What needs to be done'. Group 1 consisted of participants from island archipelagos (British Virgin Islands, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Turks & Caicos Islands). Group 2 was made up of participants from islands heavily dependent on tourism (Anguilla, Antigua-Barbuda, Nevis, St. Lucia). Group 3 included participants from those islands relatively less dependent on tourism, (Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts). Representatives from the agencies and other countries present at the workshop were assigned to the three groups.
A set of deliberation guidelines was given to each group, see Annex III.
The groups produced written reports which were presented to a plenary session on the afternoon of 25 October 1996.
Within the overall framework goal of 'Sustainable beach management by the year 2001 - What needs to be done' six main subject areas were considered at the national level (this includes the community level) and at the regional level (this includes the sub-regional level). The six areas were: additional information, institutional strengthening, awareness, education, planning and legislation, and enforcement. The following represents a summary of the reports from the three groups.
The groups universally endorsed the concept that the beach monitoring programmes established by the COSALC programme should be continued. Ale present methodology could be improved by including the positions of high water marks and offshore sand bars. The monitoring programme should be expanded to include other parameters: waves, tides, currents, sea level fluctuations, storm surges, marine debris including tarballs, size and condition of primary and secondary sand dunes, and water quality. Increased involvement of NG0s could assist with the collection of these additional data sets. In order to provide a historical perspective on recent coastal changes, aerial photographs, old maps and charts should be accessed and analyzed. One group pointed out the need to provide safety at sea information to the populace in order to reduce drowning incidents at the beaches. All groups agreed that existing information on beaches and their changes is not being fully used. Geographical Information System (GIS) technology is being developed in the islands, but most islands are at an early stage regarding this technology and it does not yet exist in some islands. Additional equipment and training in GIS and its applications is needed. Furthermore the beach change databases need to be integrated into the GIS technology; however, first the reference points for the beach profiles need to be tied into existing data in each island. At the regional level, it was recommended that regional depositories of information should be established. It was also pointed out that there was a need for more collaboration between the different agencies and projects regarding beach management initiatives.
Improved information flow between government departments was identified as a primary prerequisite in order to achieve the goal of sustainable beach management. It was generally felt that this could be achieved through the establishment, at country level, of inter-agency committees, although one agency would need to take the lead/coordinating role. There should be increased environmental input to economic planning since economic planning was a key agency in most countries with its direct links to national budgets and overseas assistance projects. The establishment of environmental desks in this agency was recommended. One group proposed that the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process needs to be strengthened in terms of scientific thoroughness and administrative significance. Ecological risk assessment and decision support systems might help achieve this goal. At the regional level it was proposed that further strengthening should be provided to the COSALC programme.
All the groups agreed that people in the islands are not sufficiently aware of the problems associated with beaches nor indeed of the need for beach management. In some islands there had been public resistance in the past to concepts such as coastal development setbacks. The groups recommended that all coastal stakeholders be included in the management process while at certain times targeting special interest groups such as fishermen, insurance companies, etc. It was recommended that inter-agency committees, set up to facilitate information flow, could provide the mechanisms for networking as well as education and awareness activities. Their membership should be widened to include coastal stakeholders and NG0s. These committees could develop a directory of human resources in each island who could be called on for specific activities. All forms of media - electronic and otherwise - should be utilized. Slide sets and videos were especially identified and these could also be used in the schools. One of the major problems experienced in all islands was how to make senior administrators and politicians more aware of beach management problems. Solutions must be sought using existing means such as field trips, seminars, community intermediaries, newspapers and other forms of media, and development guidelines. At the local and country levels it was felt that there was a need to provide certain specific types of information:
These types of information are best supplied at the local or national levels. Small grants are needed for local NG0s, who working together with the inter-agency committees, could prepare and distribute this type of information through newsletters and fact sheets.
While some consideration is given to beaches and coastal resources at the primary and secondary school levels, this needed to be increased and more time and emphasis should be given to local resource management problems in the classroom. The use of field trips, lectures, competitions, high school internships were the suggested mechanisms for this re-focused emphasis in the schools. Short-term training courses are needed for persons already involved in the project. This could be in various forms such as attachments, short courses, internships, and mentor programmes. National and regional tertiary educational institutions could provide this training, as well as advanced national coastal management units.
Planning and legislation
All the groups recommended that existing coastal development setbacks should be reviewed with the overall goal of establishing variable setbacks for beaches in each island. Ibis information would then be available to all coastal stakeholders and planning boards. Such a project might be expanded into an overall coastal zoning plan which would include water quality, coastal structures, and sand mining policy. There was consensus that legislative revision of the beach protection laws in each island was necessary. In particular, beaches, dunes, and public and private property need clear definition for property owners, planners and courts. Manuals explaining the rationale behind beach management were also needed. The need for more NGO and community input to planning and the legislative process was identified. At the regional level it was recommended that funding be sought for a regional legal audit with a view to upgrading environmental laws. In this context the OECS harmonized legislation should be analyzed for relevance and application to local situations.
There was a consensus that enforcement is one of the weakest areas of beach management and that education and awareness are vital components of enforcement. Successful enforcement requires that the socio-cultural aspects of beach management are addressed at the community and national levels; only in this way can local residents help 'police' their natural resources. Besides public involvement, inter-agency cooperation is required. In each country there are usually several different enforcement agencies (police, coastguard, immigration, customs, fisheries, national parks and others). One starting point is to coordinate the activities of these different agencies so that they do indeed help each other. One group raised the point that court officials such as magistrates and judges are not generally well informed about the need to protect coastal resources. As a result heavy fines and penalties are rarely imposed. As with so many issues this relates directly back to education and awareness. In conclusion, the participants identified needs in all six areas. Some of the needs can be fulfilled at the national level with no outside assistance, others have already been included in the programme planning for regional projects, and still others have not yet been addressed at any level. Without doubt, improved collaboration and cooperation at national and regional levels is needed in order to achieve the goal of 'Sustainable beach management by the year 2001'. Mr. Keith Nichols made a statement on behalf of the OECS countries, in which he informed the workshop participants on various initiatives and approaches by OECS/NRMU and invited COSALC to enlarge its scope to meet specific OECS Member-State needs. From the floor it was commented that not all of the countries participating in COSALC are members of OECS, but that COSALC, as a component of UNESCO's CSI, has been approved by the UNESCO Member States, of which OECS countries are a part. The need for an inter-agency collaboration was further confirmed.