It's been a busy summer for POSBEMED project team! The project partners have been conducting surveys on Mediterranean beaches among beach users, tourist operators and beach managers in Spain, Cyprus, Greece, France and Italy. The collected information is providing a better understanding of perceptions and preferences of these groups with regards to the presence of Posidonia banquettes forming on the beaches, along with valuable input about current management practices in coastal municipalities. In each country more than 200 questionnaires were collected in protected marine and coastal areas, including both the areas where the banquettes are being removed and those where the beaches are left in their natural state and banquettes are present all year long.
The surveys included questions on perception, awareness, valuation and management of the banquettes. The beach users were asked to express if they could attribute a monetary value to maintaining the beaches in a natural state - the idea was to draw the attention to the “willingness-to pay” concept, which is still very difficult to grasp for the general public, especially when referred to maintaining natural areas “untouched”. The preliminary results from Spain, for example, have shown a high level of acceptance of the banquettes among the users of beaches without banquettes’ removal compared to the users of beaches with removal. Additionally, the awareness about the importance of the banquettes for the beaches seems to be higher among the residents than among the visitors, especially their understanding of the importance of banquettes for preventing further erosion.
The results of these surveys will be analysed in detail and used to develop a socio-economic evaluation and a benchmarking study on management practices. These studies, along with other information collected throughout the project, will feed to develop a Transnational Governance and Management Strategy for Posidonia banquettes-beach/dunes systems, the main output of POSBEMED project. The strategy aims to outline the guiding principles for decision making with regards to banquettes-beach/dunes systems that balance the interests of diverse stakeholder groups, incorporate linkages among habitats for effective MPA networks, and provide a tool to facilitate evaluations for coastal resource managers.