Barcelona Field Studies Centre

Crowded Coasts Fieldwork

The field studies below have been developed to support the Edexcel GCE 'Crowded Coasts' unit for first examination in 2009.


The impact of coastal development pressures on fragile habitats

Location: Gava
Travel time: 30 minutes
Study time: full day

This fieldwork investigates the threats to fragile sand dune ecosystems along the coastline to the southwest of Barcelona. It examines the impact of human activity, the variations in biodiversity between managed and unmanaged dunes, and the success of dune management schemes.

The construction of the Gava coastal walkway aims to protect the dune ecosystem mainly by reducing extensive trampling. Landscape architecture must deal with the abiotic and biotic processes of the dune system and the Gava coastal walkway has been developed to achieve these goals.


Managed dune ecosystem at the Gava coastal
walkway (February 2008)
Managed dune ecosystem at the Gava coastal walkway (February 2008)

Unmanaged dune ecosystem at the Gava coastal
walkway (February 2008)
Unmanaged dune ecosystem at the Gava coastal walkway (February 2008)

Contrasts may be drawn with the protected sand dunes at the nearby Llobregat Delta Nature Reserve. Access is restricted to permit holders and field visits are not possible during the Spring nesting season.


Protected dune ecosystem at the Llobregat Delta Nature Reserve

Protected dune ecosystem at the Llobregat Delta Nature Reserve

Gava dunes methodology

Sand dune management



Conflict on the coast: Platja Llarga, Vilanova

Location: Vilanova
Travel time: 15 minutes
Study time: half day

There are economic benefits and environmental costs to coastal development which influence the success of the development equation. Platja Llarga at Vilanova, near Barcelona provides a local case study where the costs were perceived to outweigh the benefits and development pressures were blocked by local action.


Platja Llarga, Vilanova Barcelona (February
2008)
Platja Llarga, Vilanova Barcelona (February 2008)

Platja Llarga was a large area of coastal wetland and dunes, forming part of the delta of the River Foix. Today, although badly damaged, it remains one of the last undeveloped sites along the Catalan coast.

This fieldwork assesses the beneficial economic impacts of the Platja Llarga development against the environmental costs and examines the views of stakeholders and their conflicting needs. Field study methodology includes the use of conflict matrices, cost-benefit and values analysis and environmental impact assessments. Questionnaires may be used to gather the views of local residents and businesses.


Platja Llarga

Greenpeace Report 2008: Destruction of the Catalan coast



Conflict on the coast: Els Muntanyans

Location: Els Muntanyans, Torredembarra
Travel time: 20 minutes
Study time: half day

Els Muntanyans on the Costa Dorada provides a contrasting case study of development pressures where costs are perceived to outweigh the benefits. Development has recently been slowed by court action (February 2008).

Els Muntanyans, Torredembarra (February 2008)
Els Muntanyans, Torredembarra (February 2008)

Planning permission has been given for the construction of 550 homes, parks and facilities on the edge of coastal marshland and dunes at Els Muntanyans in Torredembarra. The development is located at the mouth of the Gibert torrent and covers the biological corridor that connects the adjacent beach and Protected Natural Area of Interest (PEIN), with the protected rural interior. The beach is the only large remaining natural beach between the Llobregat Delta to the south of Barcelona and the Ebro Delta.

This fieldwork assesses the beneficial economic impacts of the Els Muntanyans development against the environmental costs and examines the views of stakeholders and their conflicting needs. Field study methodology includes the use of conflict matrices, cost-benefit and values analysis and environmental impact assessments. Questionnaires may be used to gather the views of local residents and businesses.


Els Muntanyans

Greenpeace Report 2008: Destruction of the Catalan coast



The impact of coastal erosion and coastal management strategies

Location: Sitges, Barcelona
Travel time: 15 minutes
Study time: full day

Sitges coastal processes study
Sitges shingle beach
Sitges coastal processes study
Sitges sand beach
This study investigates the coastal processes, management and issues focusing on the threat to the Sitges beaches.

Many Catalan beaches are losing their sand. Recent storms have starkly revealed this problem and the long term solution is a complex one.

Evidence for longshore movements and dominant wave directions can be gained through a study of pebble long axes and alignments on a nearby shingle beach. Hypotheses can then be applied to a study of the sand beaches that are under threat.

The study includes an evaluation of the success of the current coastal management schemes and an assessment of alternative management strategies.

This case study forms the focus of a Eurosion report on coastal erosion and management.

Sitges coastal management



Integrated shoreline management planning: Ebro Delta

Location: Ebro Delta
Travel time: 1Ĺ hours
Study time: full day

The integrated coastal zone management plan for the sustainable development of the Ebro delta is currently being prepared.


Ebro Delta
Ebro Delta


IMPACTS PRESSURES
Coastal erosion and subsidence Regulation of Ebro river water levels
Eutrophication and loss of ecological potential in saltwater marshes Modification of the channel network and influx of water and sediments into the rice fields
Polluted, eutrophied bays with high rate of silting Excessive use of pesticides and fertilisers
Modification of river flow rate: saline wedge intrusion and loss of water quality Land occupation through development
Loss of riparian forest and vegetation Increased pressure of tourism
Reduction and fragmentation of natural areas, habitats and communities Deficit of infrastructures and facilities
Loss in quantity and quality of fishing resources Variable hydrological management that has not been jointly agreed by all agents
Marine pollution

Impacts and pressures in the Ebro Delta area

The risks associated with the Ebro Delta are:
1. Climate change
2. Loss of rice growing areas (the EUís CAP 2013)
3. Unplanned and excessive urban growth in inappropriate areas
4. Risk associated with river dynamics: modification of water flow rates, pollution phenomena, and riparian degradation
5. Construction and implementation of new infrastructures without proper evaluation of impact of strategic planning (marine wind farms, intensive aquaculture, etc.)


Ebro Delta



Edexcel AS Geography Unit 2: Geographical Investigations