Barcelona Field Studies Centre

Coastal Fieldwork

Location Themes Features
Coastal erosion and management: Sitges, Barcelona
Travel time: 15 minutes

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

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

Evidence for longshore movements and dominant wave directions can be gained through a study of pebble long axes and alignments.  Hypotheses can then be applied to a study of the sand beach profiles.

Comparisons of shingle and sand beach profiles.

Evaluation of the success of the current coastal management schemes.

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

Sitges coastal management

Conflict on the coast: Els Muntanyans
Travel time: 30 minutes
Ela Muntanyans, Torredembarra
Els Muntanyans
Els Muntanyans planning proposal
Planning development

This fieldwork assesses the beneficial economic impacts of the Muntanyans planning 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.


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.
Els Muntanyans coastal conflict methodology

Conflict on the coast: Platja Llarga, Vilanova
Travel time: 30 minutes
Platja Llarga Vilanova planning proposal
Planning development
Platja Llarga, Vilanova
Platja Llarga

This fieldwork assesses the beneficial economic impacts of the Platja Llarga planning 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.

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.

Platja Llarga

Ebro Delta: Mediterranean wetland issues and management
Travel time: 1¼ hours
Ebro Delta dunes
Dunes
Ebro Delta rice paddies
Rice paddy

Mediterranean wetland issues and management.

This study includes threats caused by increased urbanisation, tourist developments, aqua culture, river management and the National Hydrological Plan.


Primary data collection includes environmental impact assessments. The Visitors' Centre provides an audio-visual presentation upon arrival. 

A boat excursion to the delta mouth forms one of the highlights of the day.

Ebro Delta Natural Park management

Sand Dune Management: Gavą
Travel time: 30 minutes
Gava managed dunes
Managed dunes
Gava unmanaged dunes
Unmanaged dunes

The impact of human activity, the variations in biodiversity between managed and unmanaged dunes, and the success of dune management schemes. Contrasts may be drawn with the protected sand dunes at the nearby Llobregat Delta Nature Reserve.

This fieldwork investigates the threats to fragile sand dune ecosystems along the coastline to the southwest of Barcelona. The construction of the Gavą coastal walkway aims to protect the dune ecosystem mainly by reducing extensive trampling.

Management of fragile coastal ecosystems

Sand Dune Vegetation Succession: Llobregat Delta
Travel time: 30 minutes
Sand dune vegetation succession study
Llobregat Delta

Vegetation succession. Measurement of abiotic variables, distribution and abundance of plant species from pioneer zone to climax community.

The study includes a climax community problem-solving exercise. Option to consider modification of the coastal ecosystem by human activity.
Vegetation succession at the Llobregat Delta

These field studies are supported with secondary data. Each study takes a full day, with the two coastal conflict studies (Els Muntanyans and Platja Llarga) combined.