Like any other SIDS (Small Island Developing States), Seychelles is not spared from the harmful effects of coastal erosion. Coastal erosion involves the breaking down and removal of material along a coastline by the movement of wind & water. The coastal zones are vulnerable to the ever-changing climatic conditions and shocks. With almost 85% of the current population living within the vicinity of the coastal areas, there is increasing pressure on the coastlines to cater for economical and recreational needs of humans, but also for the coast to adapt and become resilient to the ever-increasing frequency and intensity of natural hazards.
Following the 2004 tsunami, where certain areas were certain coastal areas around Seychelles were badly affected. Thus, the need to manage, protect, and minimize the vulnerability of our coastlines from these natural hazards like extreme storm-surges originating from abnormal spring tides, and tsunamis which accelerates the recession of coastlines through erosion became high on the agenda. This is also because that fisheries and tourism are the pillars of our economy and the appropriate measures need to be put in place to secure the livelihoods of the fisherman and tourism establishments that depends on the coasts for their survival.
The Ministry found it mandatory through the Climate Adaptation & Management Section to implement on the ground approaches to deal with coastal erosion through the use of soft and hard engineering methods that not only slows down erosion effects contributing to coastal recession, but also secure the coastlines from further environmental degradation. They are used to reduce the impacts of wave energy on the exposed beaches, but to re-create beaches in the future. mentioned works well with several other soft components that aims to create healthy coastal fronts teeming with healthy beach fringe vegetation.
Given the recent increase in beach erosion spanning from the inner grantic to the outlying islands in recent years, many local beaches are losing their pristine character and social appeal. Many beaches which are well visited by both locals and tourists such as Anse A La Mouche, Anse Gaulette, Anse Royale and Anse Kerlan on Praslin are examples where the beach front have undergone major transformations due to coastal erosion. In many instances, beaches have receded to distances of up to 40 metres such as Anse Kerlan on Praslin, whereby property owners are losing much valued land before their eyes.
The Ministry has the responsibility to determine whether soft of hard engineering methods are the solutions to controlling the coastal erosion. It determines which method will work best taking into consideration various factors such as location, costs, anthropogenic impacts as well as the intensity of erosion.
Different soft and hard engineering methods have been used and these have been successful. For example, rock armouring was successfully used at Petite Anse Marie Louise at Takamaka to protect more than 100m of coastline and vital infrastructure such as road. The project was done in collaboration with Takamaka students, the Seychelles National Youth Council, Lions Club of Paradise Seychelles and the Environment Department. The project was highly successful and effective in restoring and enlarging the road through backfilling and the beach has been re-formed due to the deposition of sand over the rock beaching.
The rehabilitation of the Anse A La Mouche beach that was severely eroded in 2013 has also been successful. The project consisted of rehabilitating 178 meters of severely eroded coastline by the use of backfilling with coral fill to re-create the dune-land, installation of timber pilings to protect inland from incoming waves and trapping onshore sand transport, as well as re-vegetation to stabilize the newly created dune-land. Upon completion of the backfilling and timber pilings installation, a landscaping plan was initiated with various stakeholders to provide a recreational and buffer area for the Anse La Mouche coastal front.
Other techniques such as beach protection schemes involving rock armoring has also been implemented at La Passe, La Digue. InMarch 2016, a beach protection scheme involving the temporary dumping of rocks to protect the road infrastructure at Anse Gaulette, Baie Lazare was implemented in response to the continued threat of erosion that was undermining the road network in that area. Important to note is that many beach protection schemes have also been implemented by private individuals and hotels to protect their establishments from the harmful effects of erosion.
The Ministry will continue to work with the private sector and member of the public to ensure that coastal rehabilitation projects are done in a professional manner that meets coastal engineering standards and regulations to tackle coastal erosion around the Seychelles.