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CoPraNet: The planning and minimisation of the risks associated with the increasing vulnerability of the coastal edge of Central Region of Portugal

Type of Entry: Case Study
Description: The coastal zone of the Central Region of Portugal, with an extension of 146 km, presents an enormous fragility to the variations of the sedimentary balance. In the last decades this balance has been favourable to the advance of the sea in extensive coastal stretches, leading to important annual losses of territory, damaging natural habitats and increasing the flooding risk in coastal settlements. On the basis of this situation is the radical modification in coast sediment supplying and in the changing of the sedimentary transit, rather than the alteration in the erosion rates
This coast is a recent territory in geologic and morphologic terms, in its great majority consisting of low zones with marine and aeolian sediments that increases coastal erosion risk. Besides, serious erosive problems are also expected risks associated to a predictable and gradual sea level rise. Some studies indicate that sea level rise of some centimetres will have serious repercussions in this coast, especially in coastal settlements and in the main river basins, like Liz, Mondego and Vouga or in the Ria de Aveiro.
In addition, the coastal zone is an area with high densities, though, besides coastal urban settlements it is important also to consider the vulnerability of infrastructures and economical activities.
Due to the increasing vulnerability of this territory and considering that some of the phenomena exceed the jurisdiction of Central Region, it is important to consider, at least, two levels of concerns: i) the immediate ones that require coastal defence solutions and the intervention of the Civil Protection entities; and ii) the medium, long run ones that requires interventions in the planning and management of the territory, in a perspective of costs and benefits.
Since 2000, the littoral zone of Central Region is regulated by a Coastal Zone Management Plan (POOC), which is a special plan that ties privates and public entities, being applicable to a terrestrial strip of 500m width. This territorial area besides being clearly insufficient for the implementation of integrated policies, do not integrate harbour areas that are the main responsible in the alteration of the sedimentary transit.
In this case study some of the vulnerabilities of the coastal zone of Central Portugal are presented and some mitigation measures are considered, in order to face a problem that requires integrated solutions. The absence of an integrated intervention will certainly lead to hazard scenarios with important losses in economical and environmental terms and eventual losses in human lives.
Keywords: Beach protection, Coastal erosion, Flood Risk Management, Policy
Contact: António Mota Lopes
Comissão de Coordenação e Desenvolvimento Regional do Centro (CCDRC)
Rua Bernardim Ribeiro n.º 72, 2,º
3800-069 Coimbra
E-Mail: mota.lopes@ccdrc.pt
Website: www.ccdrc.pt