Assessing and managing scenery of the littoral zone

The scenic evaluation tool helps identify areas where coastal scenery can be improved.
Published: August 2015
Last edited: July 2019
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Summary

This solution provides an innovative scenic assessment methodology (comprising physical, and human parameters) that can be used by coastal managers and planners along any kind of littoral area. The technique captures new perspectives for analysis of potential coastal development in natural areas and for improving the scenic quality of currently developed areas.

Classifications

Region
Caribbean
South America
Scale of implementation
Global
Ecosystem
Beach
Coastal desert
Coastal forest
Desert ecosystems
Estuary
Freshwater ecosystems
Lagoon
Mangrove
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Salt marsh
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Urban wetlands
Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
Theme
Coastal and marine spatial management
Islands
Pollution
Restoration
Science and research
Tourism
World Heritage
Sustainable development goals
SDG 14 – Life below water

Location

Barranquilla, Atlántico Department, Colombia | Caribbean Coast of Colombia

Challenges

Development pressure, landscape degradation, and poor littoral zone management. The lack of effective management plans for the littoral zone and poor cooperation with relevant stakeholders results in poor development planning and landscape degradation. Pressure from anthropogenic development and utilization reduces scenic quality of the coastline.

Beneficiaries

Local populations, local and municipal authorities, national tourism sector, and tourists

How do the building blocks interact?

Scenery is a very important component for beach tourism and coastal economies. A scenic assessment t recognizes the potential for coastal development in rural and remote areas and provides information to improve the scenic quality of village and urban areas. Each investigated littoral zone can be divided into five classes, from Class 1 for areas of high scenic values, to Class 5, including urban degraded areas with low scenic scores. Lowest scores usually are recorded in urban beaches where litter and sewage are frequently observed. At many sites, beach degradation is enhanced by erosion processes, which are counteracted by the construction of hard structures which further reduce the scenic value. Scenery assessments are mainly led by the community with experts and managers’ support. They are able to provide valuable input for this process through knowledge they gained from capacity building sessions. Scenery assessment outcomes inform revisions of conservation targets and identify areas that need more attention. Successful strategies are defined based upon the results of the assessment. Based on all the steps above, a scenery based management plan is developed and promotes creating a better littoral zone in terms of scenic value.

Impacts

  • From a social point of view, the assessment promotes community participation in evaluation and further management of the littoral zone. The solution increased awareness of the relevance of the littoral zone among practitioners and local communities in the project area and beyond. Coastal managers and planners develop an enhanced skillset and better understanding of scenery issues, including connections with their ‘business as usual’ work.
  • From an ecological point of view, the quality of important ecosystems, such as beaches and cliff areas, is improved. This results from increased knowledge of ecological status of the littoral zone. Identifying and characterizing environmental, physical and usage variables, which must be managed in a better way promotes overall scenery improvements.
  • From an economic point of view, improved scenic value means greater potential for economic development through tourism.

Story

“If you want to relax at the beach, you look for a good beach - remember Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, in this case a tourist. Now, the flow of tourist has dropped, why?” – Roberto, a local fisherman. The scenic evaluation revealed that the natural beauty of this area is eclipsed by man-made activities and related products such: litter, sewage, and noise, among others problems. This is really an issue, due the close ties between the area’s economy and tourism. In order to resolve these issues, a management plan was created for a pilot area in order to recover the area’s natural beauty. The plan consists of raising the score of all the evaluation tool’s parameters with initially poor scores after the first scenic evaluation, or “hot spots”. Roberto the fisherman worked to improve all the "hot spots,” to make the area more attractive to tourists. His actions included:

  • continuously removing litter and conducting cleanup campaigns
  • removing the visual contamination
  • reducing noise
  • improving beach access,
  • and upgrading basic utilities (WC, Showers, among others).

After 3 month of applying the plan, Roberto says: “Things become normal again!”

Contributed by

Nelson Rangel-Buitrago Universidad del Atlántico

Other contributors

Universidad del Atlántico