Coastal erosion “serious” and “effects will only get worse”, say experts

Coastal erosion “serious” and “effects will only get worse”, say experts

Coastal erosion is back in the headlines.

Following news that beaches on the Costa Caparica are being closed next month for sand replenishment (click here), media outlets have tackled the contentious subject of property demolitions warning the situation is “costing the State millions of euros every year”.

Groups battling to preserve communities perceived to be at risk see the gathering soundbites as part of an ongoing campaign to get rid of them.

Only last week, ‘out of the blue’ Expresso returned to the theme of how many coastal homes ‘must be demolished’ (click here).

But these were words of a government minister (João Pedro Matos Fernandes).

Today ‘experts’ have been brought in – and areas further delineated.

Says Óscar Ferreira, marine geologist and associate lecturer at the University of the Algarve, the “most worrying areas in terms of coastal erosion are those where people live: the areas of Espinho to Cortegaça, the southern parts of Aveiro and Figueira da Foz, the Costa da Caparica, and the Algarve, from Quarteira/ Vale do Lobo to Faro”.

The problem is becoming worse in ‘occupied areas’, Ferreira tells Público, adding that “there is no definitive resolution for the problem”, beyond expensive sand replenishment efforts, which can only ever be temporary.

What isn’t approached in Público’s text are the years of sand extraction that left island communities in the Algarve’s Ria Formosa achingly vulnerable.

This is a side of the ‘coastal-communities-at-risk’ story that is rarely touched on by the authorities which doggedly insist islanders are in danger, not that they have been put in danger’s way.

But elsewhere, the arguments of ‘Europe’s most dynamic coastline’ stand, and when populations and iconic beaches are not at stake, the practice has been to let the sea do its work, Ferreira explains.

Rising sea levels will simply increase Portugal’s problems, he concluded. “But right now, even without climate change, we have a serious problem”.

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