Coastal erosion “must be dealt with”, says study

A government-requested study has found that Portugal has to start replenishing its beaches with sand very soon in order to avoid the negative consequences of coastal erosion.

Filipe Duarte Santos, the head of the working group behind the study, told Lusa news agency that coastal erosion is growing at a “worrying level”. Since the last century, the coastline has receded by over 20 centimetres.

It is mostly due to a lack of sediments that used to be brought by rivers, especially the Douro, which would then be scattered along the coast. These days, due to the lack of the use of rivers, this isn’t happening, he explained, saying the situation is at its worst between Foz do Douro and Nazaré.

But “the main cause of why coastlines are receding is because dunes are being destroyed” and more towns are susceptible to flooding.

“This is why we recommend sand replenishment work on the beaches along our coast.”

Santos added that authorities will soon have to consider moving certain infrastructures and homes away from the most risky coastal areas.

“This year, we luckily didn’t have many storms, but if we have another year with very violent storms, the situation can become difficult,” he warned.

As Lusa pointed out, the situation is so serious that the working group has even come up with medium (up to 2050) and long-term recommendations (up to 2100).

The study also points that Portugal is one of the European countries most affected by coastal erosion, with 80% of the population living on the coast and 85% of the country’s wealth being produced near the sea.

Vagueira (Aveiro), Costa da Caparica (Lisbon) and Quarteira (Algarve) were the three areas where specialists conducted the study, entitled ‘CHANGE’.