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«Strategic management of beach protection for sustainable development

of Mediterranean coastal zones»

Beachmed-e home
The Beachmed-e Project is a Regional Framework Operation (RFO) between Regione Lazio, (IT), leader partner, Regione Emilia Romagna (IT), Regione Toscana (IT), Regione Liguria (IT), Conseil Général de l’Hérault (FR), Service Maritime et Navigation du Languedoc-Roussillon (FR), Generalitat Catalunya (ES), East Macedonia and Thrace Region (GR), Crete Region (GR).


The main objective of the project is to pinpoint and improve technical and administrative tools for a strategic management of the coastal defence, in order to achieve a sustainable development of the Mediterranean coastal zones, by developing the topics already dealt with by the previous BEACHMED project (Interreg IIIB - Medocc). The Project has been officially launched in July 2005 and will end in June 2008, covering a total period of 36 months. Its total budget is of 7.668.366,50 euros, partly financed by FEDER (54%), and partly co-financed (46%) by the partners.

Sandy coastal stretches in the industrialised countries are strategically important for sustainable development. In these areas, social and economic interests and the protection of natural ecosystems must meet the target of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM). Due to their position, the development potential of communities situated in European low coastal areas is high and important. The following may be mentioned:

  • Development of urban infrastructures
  • Development of tourist infrastructures
  • Development of industrial and commercial activities linked to port infrastructures and multimode transport nodes
  • Development of habitat having a special meaning and a unique value
However, beaches are delimited along the coastline, by a demarcating line. From the morphologic point of view, this line is an area where a delicate balance exists between sea action and the presenceof sand along the coast. This territory is especially delicate if we consider some phenomena having reached a global relevance and structurally linked to our modern development model:
  • Vulnerability to the consequences of green-house effect (rising sea level, greater intensity of meteoric marine events)
  • Vulnerability to reduced river sediment load transport (dams, river defence & river training measures, erosion control measures, extensive presence of paved area in river catchments)
  • Vulnerability to the loss of natural protection areas due to uncontrolled urban development (posidonia fields, dune systems, autochthon coastal vegetation)
  • Vulnerability to coastal infrastructures affecting sediment transport along the coastline (ports, piers, dams, breakwaters, reefs…)
It is necessary to define global strategies and long term measures for each of the above-mentioned  vulnerabilities, which as a whole cause a remarkable erosion to the coastline and subsequently result in an economic and environmental damage. Based on what it is already been said for the BEACHMED project, it  was possible to set up actions to improve quality within this delicate sector, by implementing in a more advanced  way some of the issues underway that proved to be strategic, thus obtaining very useful practical results on some entire European territories. Moreover, we developed organisation structures capable of managing these  issues at a European level. As a matter of fact, within the European coastal zones policy (Note of the European Commission to the Council and to the European Parliament on the integrated management of coastal zones: a strategy for Europe– COM/2000/547), attention has been focused on the need to use integrated planning models which take into account the many problematic factors within this territory. When the coastal zone planning development does not consider that fact that this some costal zone might “disappear”, it is clear that  every initiative in this sense is going to fail. Basically, if the problem of coastal erosion is not  seen as a structural problem of our modern development model, if we are not able to define concrete long term measures having a low impact on the environmental in order to combat coastal erosion, every single policy or planning of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) is not going to succeed. The project title makes explicit reference to an evolution of the BEACHMED project and focuses on the “management” aspect of the problem, since we expect specific results in this sense.
The erosion phenomenon of low coasts is even more evident because of the high and ever increasing demand of coastal spaces due to the high development potential. This also highlights  its sensitivity regarding the coast periodic or seasonal regressions. Omitting the great planetary topics linked to green-house effect and that go beyond this operation, the main active and passive actions that can be undertaken are summarised as follows:

Phenomena linked to the development

Vulnerabilities on the coastal zones

Active types of actions

Passive type of actions

CO2 increase

Increase of medium sea level

Meteo-marine event of major intensity


Increase of coastal areas due to sand nourishment

Diminished contribution of the rivers transport load

coastal erosion

deepening of sea bottom

sea bottom denaturalisation along the coastline

Total or partial restoration of natural load transportation

Total or partial restoration of natural solid load transportation

Braking down of natural defence structures

sea bottom erosion

denaturalisation of sea bottom along the coastline

Reconstruction of dune zones and of sea-grass prairies

Protection measures for dune zones and sea-grass prairies

Construction of coastal infrastructures

Coastal erosion

Denaturalisation of the coastal sea bottom along the coastline

Design with special attention to the erosive phenomenon artificially introduced

Coastal protection by means of soft and protected nourishment

Re-use of intersected sandy material

On the basis of this scheme, the BEACHMED-e operation has been structured according to three lines of action, called COMPONENTS, aiming at defining specific tools to fight induced vulnerabilities and making them available to public Administrations:

  1. Design and implement technical tools to characterise the erosion phenomenon at a European level and to use resources in a sustainable way 
  2. Set up tools to manage the relation between urban-land development and morphologically fragile areas, related to ordinary and exceptional sea storms
  3. Set up ruling and organisational tools so that all parties involved (private and public) can define, regulate and manage coastal defence

For each of these components, we have identified specific MEASURES going deep into the subject, and  we have defined the preliminarily goals the Administrations intend to reach in the framework of each of them . The list of MEASURES and associated objectives is available in the Objectives Report.

How the operation works

RFO.gifThe BEACHMED-e Operation has been conceived as a Regional Framework Operation (RFO) based on the criteria fixed by the INTERREG IIIC Program. The Administrations that have joined the Operation and that currently constitute the RFO (Regional Framework Operation) partnership, have to define and specify themes concerning this topic (MEASURES). Partnerships formed by Public subjects (Universities, local Institutes of research, Administrations, etc) will then lead the corresponding studies. In particular, once the RFO Administrations have defined the MEASURES and objectives they intend to pursue, a Public Call will be launched in order to select and identify specific proposals for achieving the prefixed objectives of each MEASURE. The proposals will be prepared by the partnerships constituted by Public Subjects having shown their interest to take part to the initiative (Call for the Manifestation of Interest), by proving their expertise in the subject matter. Once the Administrations constituting the RFO partnership (Steering Committee), have accepted the Public  Entities' candidacy, the Public Entities are requested to constitute the appropriate partnerships (PARTICIPANTS) and to submit a SUBPROJECT proposal for the MEASURES. The SUBPROJECT proposals will be first examined and selected by the RFO Administrations, and then officially approved. The PARTICIPANT partnerships will be represented by a Participant partner leader and will operate under the coordination of MEASURE leaders indicated by the Administrations. During their various implementation phases, the SUBPROJECTS will be first approved from a technical point of view by COMPONENT COMMITTEES, and then finally approuved by the STEERING COMMITTEE, taking into account the financial aspects. For an outline of the entire operational organisation, please refer to the Organization Chart.

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