On February 8, 2016 the Ministry of Environment and Drainage, under the direction of the Minister, Dr. Hon. Dennis Lowe coordinate a tour of coastal sites which were especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The tours were conducted as part of efforts to fully assess the condition of these coastal sites, document the challenges faced by agencies in charge of their conservation and restoration and to detail plans going forward for their continued conservation, management and restoration.
The touring party consisted of the following agencies and persons: The Coastal Zone Management Unit, the PM Project Coordination Unit, the Drainage Division, the National Conservation Commission, the National Botanical Gardens, Mr. Rickardo Ward, Ms. Kim Downes Agard, Ms. Nicole Scholar Tasker, Mr. Rohan Payne, Members of the Government Information Service and the Press (Nation, Advocate, Barbados Today) and the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation.
Hurricanes and tropical storms usually cause beach erosion and cliff instability. The low-lying areas of the country, including the densely populated coastal zones, are also prone to frequent flooding. Tourism and its associated infrastructure, which are concentrated in the coastal zone, are therefore associated with a high level of coastal risk.
The coastal areas of Barbados comprise the country’s main economic asset. Sandy beaches, thriving coral reefs and a warm tropical climate, combine to create a tourism industry that accounts for a significant percentage of GDP and total export earnings. Without adaptation, climate change impacts are likely to severely threaten the physical and economic viability of Barbados’ coastal shoreline.
Crane beach is located on the Southeast coast of Barbados. It is one of the most popular beaches along that coast and is used extensively by both locals and tourists. Public access to the beach is via a narrow, steeply sloped, roadway down to a rockfill headland, which is between the North and South beaches.
The Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit indicated that the way forward for this beach will comprise of the following works:
- Removal of existing rockfill headland (salvage materials for reuse as appropriate)
- Construction of a new revetment and public promenade in front of the cliff and existing revetment
- Construction of a submerged reef just offshore of the revetment and fill the area between that and the reef with sand
- Development of a new public parking area along the access road
- Development of improved public access from the new parking area down to the promenade
Foul Bay is also located on the Southeast coast of Barbados. It is bordered by two headlands. The tour highlighted that this area experienced a cliff failure in 2004. The cliff failure at Foul Bay illustrated the impacts of climate change on coastal cliffs. The Director of the CZMU noted that in order to mitigate against this type of failure the type and size of development which occurred on these cliffs, would need to be controlled.
It was noted that as part of the ongoing Coastal Risk assessment and Management Programme (CRMP) a study was being undertaken to assess the stability of the cliffed shoreline in Barbados. This information would be used to classify the stability of cliffs based on their geology, geomorphology and modes of failure.
This classification would in turn inform the minimum building setback on the specific cliff identified for development thereby ensuring the cliff is not compromised by bearing stresses imposed by unsuitable development.
Silver Sands Beach
This Beach is located on the south coast of the island. The touring party observed an area of frequent flooding which occurred during periods of heavy rainfall.
This beach was classified as an eroding beach, however over the years the beach was protected by the dunes in the back beach. The dunes had however been ravaged by the high energy wave action at the site such that the larger trees had uprooted and fallen. It was noted that more detailed studies would have to be undertaken to identify suitable solutions to the erosion at the site.