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The notion infrastructure has various connotations. It refers to physical elements such as roads, bridges, sea walls, groynes or breakwaters, but also to the institutional infrastructure ("arrangements").   

Physical infrastructure

Due to their impact on the natural system and their cost, coastal structures are normally an important element in coastal zone management studies. Depending on their effect on the coastal system, the following three categories of coastal structures may be identified:
  • Sacrificial structures, often consisting of natural materials such as sand and gravel. They are used as a buffer to protect coastal areas from erosion. Examples of such structures are artificial dunes, artificial shoals and sand nourishment or beach nourishment. These structures least interfere with the natural processes or may even take part in it.
  • Defensive structures, which are made of more resistant materials such as clay and rock or artificial elements like concrete. They are used to consolidate the present position of the coastline and to protect it in the event of extreme waves and tides. Examples are dikes and dune revetments. These structures normally do not interfere with natural processes, until an extreme condition occurs. In that case, its protective function is activated and it starts to affect the coastal processes.
  • Offensive structures are designed to actively affect the coastal processes, in order to improve conditions for any or all of the coastal activities. They are, therefore, constructed of artificial materials which can withstand the forces of nature. Examples are break-waters and groynes. Obviously, this type of structure has a large impact on the coastal system.

 

A "sacrificial structure": a beach nourishment, Texel, Netherlands

Bulgarian case study: coastal protection using hard rock measures

Shabla municipality took the conscious decision to compromise part of its coastal landscape in favour of hard rock measures to protect the coast from severe annual erosion. Various structures were built to safeguard the coastline and ensure the livelihoods of the local communities. The measures proved effective to ‘’hold the line’’ and the increased safety has allowed other economic activities to develop e.g. eco-tourism.

For Cape Shabla, a comprehensive, coastal protection, urban plan together with a construction project was ordered by the municipality for the villages including the facilities and a small port (used by both fishermen and recreational yachts) and the necessary infrastructure. To the north of Shabla, this consisted of a rocky embankment protection dyke (200m long), a low jetty (40m long), a high pier (110m long), a concrete wall (105m long) and a berth (125m long). To the south of Shabla, the construction works consisted of a rocky embankment protection dyke (250m long). The fishermen’s village now has berths for 113 boats, 44 yachts and 6 motorised cutters for local tourism trips.

The protection measures have been effective and the erosion process has stopped. The main goals have, therefore, been achieved viz. the losses of the shoreline have stopped, the risks to the population and the capital investments have decreased and the interests of the local community have been adequately protected.

 

 


Institutional Infrastructure

For an effective coastal zone management environment, a control system is required which formulates the objectives of coastal zone management, monitors the developments and which takes appropriate long term and short term actions when needed. Basically, following four elements can be identified in this respect:
  • the political system, which defines the long term objectives of coastal zone management and the criteria which should be applied for the analysis of various scenarios
  • the legislative system, the total of the governing international conventions, national laws and regional/local regulations to enforce this policy
  • the financial system, which provides the necessary funding
  • the executive system, which defines the scope of responsibilities for all activities related to coastal zone management.
Due to different historic developments, different social and administrative cultures and different financial conditions, each country has developed a different control system. As the efficiency of the control system is of vital importance for the success of coastal zone management, its particular characteristics and responsibilities should be acknowledged by the coastal manager.

Coastal protection measures in the southern Black Sea coast - Romania

The Romanian Black Sea coast is facing long term shoreline erosion problems. Since the 1980s, the southern part of the Romanian coast, where the most economic and social activities are located, is threatened by a steady increase of erosion phenomena which has caused severe damage in terms of beach losses, tourism and recreation facilities and public safety. Since 2005, coastal protection became a priority for the Romanian government. Taking into account the serious threat of coastal erosion, the government requested support from the Japanese Government. Through its Agency JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), Romania received international technical assistance and financial support to develop a comprehensive study for coastal protection and rehabilitation of the southern part of the Romanian Black Sea coastal area. The main outcome of the study was the Master Plan for coastal protection delivered at the end of 2007. The protection coastal measures identified in the Master Plan for the two priority areas were mainly directed towards hard protection such as breakwaters and groynes and to a lesser degree by soft protection such as artificial reefs and artificial sand nourishments. In addition, maintenance of the existing hard structure or removal of the inadequate and non-effective old structures were also considered as necessary coastal works.

An assessment of the coastal protection measures in terms of estimated costs for operation, maintenance and a management plan, legal and institutional framework, was carried out by the Romanian institutions. A Strategic Environmental Assessmenthas been applied for the Master Plan and its outcomes paving the way for a Strategic Plan for coastal protection. Also an EIA and public debate of the two priority projects were conducted.

Coastal erosion – Mamaia Beach – Romania (photo Claudia Coman)