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Coastal and Beach Erosion

Approximately 40% of South Africa’s population lives within 100 km of the coast and coastal resources are relied on for commercial opportunities as well as for food, recreation and transport, thereby facilitating job creation and general economic upliftment. The coastal zone is subject to significant anthropogenic modifications and both coastal ecosystems and human populations are especially susceptible to the negative impacts of any changes, including natural geohazards (IGOS, 2006).

The impacts of geohazards in coastal regions are typically considered to affect two priority areas, namely: coastal populations and ecosystems. Both these natural and human elements of coastal zones are vulnerable to disturbances associated with natural processes in conjunction with anthropogenic forcing. The most common geohazards in coastal areas can be considered to result from, among others:

  1. Inundation associated with sea-level rise and related storm surge flooding.
  2. Changes in sediment dynamics (coastal erosion and deposition for example.

The report by Wigley (2011) describes some of the geological hazards associated with coastal zones and provides recommendations for the development of a coastal vulnerability index for South Africa.

Wigley, R. 2011. Geohazards in coastal areas. Council for Geoscience Report Number: 2011-0066

Download the report.