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Conclusions

During the last century, beaches have completely reversed their role: they have become the driving force behind the economic welfare instead of just being an inhospitable place. However, the demographic pressure and the overuse of the territory related to those factors, in the hinterland (dams in the rivers, farming and tourism) as well as in the proper beach (sewage discharge, dry goods extraction and crops) have caused a general decrease in the contribution of sediments to the beaches with a continental or a marine origin. It is hard to find a unique solution for all those problems. However, it should be absolutely essential to follow these points:

  1. First, an Integrated Coastal Zone Management of the beaches (see glossary). Beaches are meant to be areas that are comprised from the submarine area to the dunes. This implies the reorganization of the whole territory and even of its periphery, in a way that the natural areas can benefit from that process and provide a concentration of tourism in a specific area. It is also necessary for sustainable development, that the incorporation of the costs of environmental services and damages (and their repairs) fall directly into the prices of the goods, services or activities which cause them. Thereby contributing to the implementation of the Polluter Pays Principle in the coast. Beaches have an economic and an environmental value and they help to protect the coast against coastal erosion, so a greater investment is needed.
  2. Second, a better dissemination of the existing information should be achieved. For that purpose,a better coordination of the existing governmental bodies that deal with coastal management is necessary. Also, the information should be accessible to everyone. Concerning the latter aspect, scientific journalism has to be protected and favoured, as well as seminars where all the agents related with the coast can exchange their opinions, results or methodologies.
  3. Third, an improvement of the environmental education is essential for a sustainable development of the coast.