Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Coastal management sourcebooks 1


Coastline changes due to natural processes and human intervention represent a major concern of coastal planners the world over, and indeed of ordinary citizens who have real or potential interests in beaches and seaside property. While beaches may be the substance of vacation dreams for some, their disappearance through erosion can lead to nightmares for those who live, relax and build close to the shore.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been involved in the search for answers to coastal problems for well over two decades. Under the auspices of its Coastal Marine programme, a project was developed and eventually entitled Coast and Beach Stability in the Caribbean (COSALC). Since 1993, the project has benefited from the co-sponsorship of the Sea Grant College Program of the University of Puerto Rico. More recently, UNESCO’s support for the project’s activities has been provided through the Organization’s platform for cross-sectoral action: Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands (CSI).

The publication of Coping with Beach Erosion is one tangible output of the above-mentioned project. The information and advice contained herein are the fruit of scientific research findings since the mid-1980s. They are particularly relevant to the Caribbean, whose shores are subject to powerful, frequent hurricanes and where the loss of beaches, vital to the tourism-based economies, adversely affects the welfare of numerous coastal inhabitants.

Based on copious observations, the author describes practical steps to follow when contemplating an oceanside purchase – or when a favourite beach suddenly disappears overnight. The wise practices discussed herein, while initially directed towards Caribbean coastal managers, property owners and beach users, should prove useful for seaside dwellers elsewhere. Indeed, it is hoped that the text will help coastal planners and stakeholders around the world to establish their own specific measures and guidelines for dealing with coastline instability.

In addition to expressing appreciation for Dr. Cambers’ unflagging efforts to develop these invaluable guidelines, recognition is given to Dr. Malcolm Hendry, who was instrumental in initiating the manuscript as part of his collaboration with UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission via its subsidiary body in the Caribbean (IOCARIBE).

This volume launches a new UNESCO series entitled Coastal Management Sourcebooks. The series is to serve as a source of information, ideas and practical tools for environmentally sound, socially equitable and culturally appropriate management and development in coastal regions and small islands.


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