Johnson to the rescue of our coast
15 Feb 2011
The MEC for Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development in KwaZulu-Natal, Honorable Mrs Lydia Johnson, in collaboration with the Oceanographic Research Institute and other stakeholders launched two innovative tools that will result in the improved management of the KwaZulu-Natal coastal zone.
The two tools are:
- A user-friendly guide called “Understanding our Coast"
- A KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Vulnerability Index Viewer.
KwaZulu-Natal’s coast is a priceless treasure where many of our people live, work and spend leisure time. Our coast creates development opportunities and delivers services that support a great many livelihoods. It is estimated that our coastal environment generates goods and services in excess of R60 billion per year. But, our coast is an asset which is too often taken for granted, and this has resulted in the need for the development of the above tools.
Understanding our Coast
The MEC remarked that the ‘Understanding our Coast’ guide is the first product of its kind in South Africa and bridges the gap in ensuring that everyone understands why our coast is a unique asset, which must be managed as such. She said she hoped that this document lays the foundation for a change in attitude and behaviour towards the special place we call “our coast”. This is the first release of the guide and over the coming months the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development will ensure that it reaches as wide an audience as possible.
Coastal Vulnerability Index Viewer (CVI)
An index of coastal vulnerability has been determined in order to identify areas particularly sensitive to environmental hazards. There are a number of contributing factors in the process of determining overall coastal vulnerability, like vulnerabilities of the physical, social, economic and ecological environments. These different components have been assessed and integrated in order to determine the overall coastal vulnerability for sections of the KwaZulu-Natal coastline.
The CVI was undertaken in three phases:
- An assessment of physical vulnerability based on the physical parameters of the coast.
- The second phase looked at social, economic and ecological vulnerabilities.
- In phase three the social, economic and ecological vulnerabilities have been related to the physical coastal vulnerability, so as to identify areas potentially at risk. All the data has been compiled into a user-friendly interactive viewer format.
The CVI categorises the coast into three risk classes, namely: risk, moderate risk and high risk. For this assessment risk was defined as the potential to be impacted or damaged as a result of coastal erosion or extreme storm events. The assessment derived an index that shows the risk for the coast relative to the coast overall. In terms of the dynamic nature of our coast, the entire coast is considered to be at risk to some degree. Thus risk is considered to be the lowest risk category, followed by moderate risk and high risk.
The CVI’s use will be proactive and will allow KwaZulu-Natal to undertake a risk averse and precautionary approach to coastal development and ultimately lead to sustainable development.
The MEC stated that the Coastal Vulnerability Index viewer is a landmark decision-support tool for the management of KwaZulu-Natal’s coastal zone. It enables our coastal managers to better assess the risk and vulnerability of our coast to the potential effects of future extreme storm and erosion events, such as what we experienced in March 2007. She added that the tool will be rolled out to all local and district municipalities along the coast and over the coming months the department will provide interactive training and guidance on its use and interpretation. It is also envisaged that over time the tool will be accessible to members of the public. In so doing, this will build capacity to make proactive, informed planning decisions and contribute to the long-term sustainability of the KwaZulu-Natal coast in light of the challenges posed by climate change and sea-level rise.
The MEC called on members of the public to take ownership of and better manage our coast.
Tel: 033 343 8063
Cell: 079 515 7187
Issued by: KwaZulu-Natal Agriculture, Enviromental Affairs and Rural Development
15 Feb 2011
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