Coastal Conservation the Best Option - UK Beach Erosion Expert
“No Beaches for our Children? How to Adapt to the Future”, was the title of a presentation delivered at UKZN by Dr Luciana Esteves of the University of Bournemouth in the United Kingdom.
In the country as a guest of the Royal Society of South Africa, Esteves is principal academic in Physical Geography at her institution and a leading expert in coastal management, particularly coastal erosion and flood risk management.
Her recent work concerns the long-term sustainability of managed realignment and other adaptation alternatives to reduce flooding and erosion risk to people, property and the economy.
According to Esteves, increased development of coastal areas to support a burgeoning population’s recreational and socio-economic activities, coupled with extreme weather events and climate change projections, present great risks to people living in coastal areas because flooding and erosion events are increasing.
Her visit to KwaZulu-Natal was hosted by the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI) and the Royal Society of South Africa (RSSA), while Professor Trevor Hill of the Discipline of Geography facilitated the Royal Society Lecture at UKZN.
The lecture was well-attended by staff and students, who responded enthusiastically to the presentation. Her visit to South Africa was funded through the National Research Foundation’s (NRF) UK / South Africa Researcher Links Grant.
Esteves said custodians of coastlines should avoid taking decisions that increase the vulnerability of the areas instead of promoting resilience.
‘Conservation or restoration of natural assets is the best management option. To not do so is to incur huge risk, not just in the future, but now.’
Esteve’s visit included meeting officials from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in Durban to discuss the state of Durban’s beaches and how to ensure their sustainability. She also went on a flight up the KwaZulu-Natal coast to observe the coastline and its conservation and development.