Coasts

 Sample Exam Questions 

 

To what extent does human activity make managment strategies necessary in your selected geomorphic environment? Assess the effectiveness of the management strategies adopted.

 

   Various management strategies are in use around the world to help reduce the impact of geomorphological processes like erosion, transportation and deposition of our coastlines. In Britain coastlines are under severe risk from coastal erosion. Organisations like the Environmental Agency and local councils are in charge of coastal management around the 5000 kilometres of coastline in the United Kingdom.

   At Chesil each management strategies are necessary to keep the road behind it open so human activity can continue. The main road connects the Isle of Portland to Weymouth and is essential so that limestone can be carried between the two regions for infrastructure purposes; it is of great economic value. Management strategies used at Chesil Beach include gabions which are metal cages filled up with shingle material. They are positioned at the top of the beach on the storm ridge and help to reduce the effect high energy events have on the beach. They are very effective at increasing the height and the width of the crest and are beneficial for protecting high risk property or in this case a road from damage. Their main advantage though is an economic one; they are cheaper than other management strategies and easier to construct. However, the downside to this is that they are relatively light weight which means that they only work as a small scale solution and therefore would not be effective on large areas that need protecting. Chesil Beach also uses culverts, which drain water that has been percolated through the beach and is stored in lagoons behind it. They are used to protect the town of Chiswell and the main ĎAí road from flooding so they are beneficial if you look at the social advantages. The culvert protects resident homes from damage due to flooding so it must be a great relief to them. However, it is a hard engineering solution which is not environmentally friendly as it is an eyesore compared to the rest of the landscape. Overall the flood alleviation scheme at Chesil beach cost £5 million, which is expensive. It is worth it though as the human activity behind the beach, mainly transferring limestone to the mainland, brings a lot of wealth to the area.

   Concave sea walls are very important in some areas of the world to stop erosion from occurring. At Furzy Cliff a curved sea wall has been used to prevent cliff foot erosion by deflecting the wave energy back out to sea. They are very beneficial as they stop the cliff from receding any further. This is important as on the top of Furzy Cliff a lot of human activity goes on. This includes a pub, expensive housing but most importantly a major road used by tourists between Weymouth and Swanage. At an economic cost of £400000 they are very expensive, but the social advantage by protecting peoples livelihood and also the economic benefit by keeping the main road open far outweighs its cost.

   At Galveston Texas an enormous hard engineered concave sea wall was built to prevent any more erosion occurring at this time. Initially it was thought to be very effective as it was a permanent solution to protect the town and its residents. However, the sea wall has had major implications. The environmental cost of the sea wall has become a very serious issue. Beach sediment depletion is occurring as the backwash of massive waves during high energy events is eroding away the beach completely. This is also an economic cost as the money received from tourism will reduce significantly if there is no beach left. At Galveston concave sea walls are also harming the marine ecosystem. Giant turtles come to the region every year and with the beach disappearing they can no longer lay their eggs. This will have a huge effect on the turtle population and with the sea wall being very expensive to construct, its effectiveness can be seriously questioned.

   Zoning is also important in several locations around the world to protect the natural environment. Tourism is a major source of income on reefs like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It is estimated that the tourist trade is worth £800 million a year. The environment has to be protected though, so to manage the visitor pressure land use zoning is used extensively. The reef is self regulating and balancing traditional hunting and fishing activities is important to control the biodiversity of the region and protect the 9 million species which can be found there. Artificial reefs made up of appropriate waste material create buffer zones and with the use of indigenous people this helps the reefs sustainability and the conservation of increasingly threatened species. This balance between the economic benefits of tourism along with the management strategies used to protect the environment makes the zoning at this reef very effective.

  At Poole Harbour zoning is also used so interaction between human activity and the landscape can be kept in the balance. Jet-skiing and windsurfing has been restricted to certain zones so that it still brings in revenue but is located in an area that doesnít affect the harbour and the biodiversity found in that area. These activities do not cross the path of the cross channel ferries which reduces the risk of any accidents occurring. Zoning is very effective as it costs nothing, it is very beneficial to the environment and it keeps the amount of human activity in dynamic equilibrium with coastal processes.

   Coastal management is needed around the world but in the wealthiest country in the world, the USA, they cannot settle on one single set of rules to ensure the protection of its coastline. This makes you wonder, how are the rest of the world supposed to cope, if this one country canít organise themselves correctly. I believe that as more building close to coastal areas should be obligatory where the do nothing strategy is just not feasible. For example in the UK, there just isnít the geographical space for this to occur so infrastructure should be permanently stopped in high risk areas.