An application of GIS and coastal geomorphology for large scale assessment of coastal erosion and management: A case study of Ghana

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Boateng, Isaac
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Journal of Coastal Conservation
t Coastal erosion poses serious threat to life and 12 properties along Ghana’s coast. This is because major in 13 dustries, urban settlements, recreational facilities, heritage 14 and conservation sites are located few metresfrom the coast. 15 In spite of this threat, management strategies, both past and 16 present, remain an “ad hoc” and site specific. Limited atten 17 tion has been given to large scale assessment and investiga 18 tion to detect the rate of coastal recession and the size of 19 land lost to the sea to inform integrated management plan 20 and to formulate sustainable management strategies to deal 21 with the problem. This paper provides large scale assess 22 ment of coastal recession in Ghana through field investiga 23 tion, applied coastal geomorphology and GIS techniques to 24 selected case study areas. The assessment covered 203 km 25 out of the 540 km coastline of Ghana. Results of the assess 26 ment indicate that coastal erosion is very substantial and 27 wide spread along the coast, but the rate of recession varies 28 across the entire coastline. Significant amounts of losses of 29 settlements have been experienced in some localities in the 30 eastern coast (Keta and Ada) and the central coast (Accra, 31 Shama and Sekondi-Takoradi).In some areas, coastal defen 32 ces have been built to reduce the impacts, yet many areas are 33 still very vulnerable. Interestingly, the paper identified that 34 the high rates of retreat recorded in many areas have yet to 35 cause major risks in some local communities because of the 36 presence of a buffer of largely undeveloped land that has 37 existed historically between the shoreline and the develop 38 ments. However, recent increase in coastal tourism in Ghana 39 has led to “scramble” for purchase of these buffer lands for development, which increase the risk. Ghana has the oppor- 40 tunity to use education and land use planning to keep the 41 coastline clear of major developments and avoid the temp- 42 tation of engaging in costly cycle of development-risk- 43 defence experienced in many countries including the UK 44 and the Netherlands. The paper recommends that Ghana 45 should adopt the UK SMP, which has progressively moved 46 away from the traditional re-active and parochial approaches 47 of providing localised hard-engineered coastal defence work 48 to solve what was perceived to be a local problem, to a more 49 pro-active and holistic approach that take full account of 50 coastal dynamics, interrelationships of coastal systems, 51 knock-on effects, environment concerns and developments 52 at the backshore.
Boateng, I. (2012). An application of GIS and coastal geomorphology for large scale assessment of coastal erosion and management: a case study of Ghana. Journal of coastal conservation, 16, 383-397.