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Coastal erosion in the Mediterranean

Coastal erosion is one of the most important socio-economical problems that challenge the capabilities of states and local authorities. Whether it is due to natural or anthropogenic reasons, coastal erosion causes significant economical losses, social problems, and ecological damages.

The problem of erosion may extend its influence hundreds of kilometres alongshore in the case of large deltaic areas, and may have transboundary implications. In the case of pocket beaches on the other hand, it could be a very local phenomenon affecting only the residents of a nearby town and/or the tourism industry.
Coastal erosion is defined as the long-term loss of the shore material (volume) relative to fixed reference line (baseline) and initial reference volume seaward of this line above some, arbitrary vertical datum (Basco, 1999). Coastal erosion is always accompanied with the shoreward recession of the shoreline and the loss of land area. It is usually judged as “critical “ when it presents a serious problem wherever the rate of erosion, considered in conjunction with economic, industrial, recreational, agricultural, navigational, demographic, ecological and other relevant factors, indicates that action to remedy (stop or slow down) erosion may be “justified”.In the Mediterranean, coastal erosion has been a longstanding, large-scale issue around the deltaic areas, such as the deltas of the Nile and Po Rivers, and the smaller deltas like those of the Albanian rivers. It has also been a major issue at smaller scales, especially in the municipal or tourist resort beaches along the relatively more densely developed northern coast, following the flux of people from inland areas to the coast and the boom of the tourism industry. More than 40% of beaches in France, Italy and Spain was found to be confronting erosion in the EU project CORINE completed in 1990. According to the Atlas of the Italian Beaches (Fierro and Ivaldi, 2001), 27% of the Italian beaches which constitute 61% of the total Italian coastline are retreating, 70% in equilibrium, and only 3% prograding.

PAP was entrusted by the Contracting Parties to tackle this issue in the framework of ICAM for the Mediterranean. Although there exist many other, more sectoral approaches and experiences dealing with coastal erosion, PAP wishes to contribute to rational management of the coastal erosion by integrating management policies influencing this phenomenon. An Expert Meeting was organised by PAP in Split from 10 to 11 January 2002, with the aim of discussing the coastal erosion issues in the Mediterranean, and the concrete actions that could be taken to combat it. For the purpose of setting the stage for discussions in this Meeting an overview paper was prepared by Mr. E. Özhan.


Bellaria, N. Ardiatic coast (E. Pranzini)


Follonica, Italy (E. Pranzini)



Report of the Expert Meeting "Towards Mediterranean Regional Strategy on Coastal Erosion: Benefiting from the EUROSION Project" (Nicosia, March 16 - 17, 2006). Split: PAP/RAC. pp. 23

(Download CoastalErosion-Cyprus06-Report-1.pdf / 186kb)


Özhan, E. 2002. Coastal Erosion Management in the Mediterranean: An overview. Split: PAP/RAC. pp. 26.

(Download COASTAL EROSION IN MED Ozhan.doc / 254kb)


Expert meeting on coastal erosion (Split, January 10-11, 2002) REPORT Split: PAP/RAC. pp. 26.

(Download Coastal-erosion-01-02-Report-web.doc / 193kb)


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