Page 21 of The San Pedro Sun, Today. coastal Geologist Stephen J. Leatherman has made a point the Belize Dept. of the Environment should sit up and listen to. Sea Walls and Dredging cause erosion of the island....where have we heard that before. His explanations of the mechanics of beach growth and erosion is right on.Its the best and most clear explanation of the detriment I've seen. I wonder if the people signing all these permits to build sea walls and dredge up the sea bed read the paper?
Dredging can cause erosion when you don't have a plan to stop the erosion. Unfortunately when issuing a permit a plan to stop erosion is not required. The same goes for a seawall, but a seawall is often the only solution when erosion gets out of hand.
The best way to prevent erosion is to plant as many palm trees on the beach as possible (as their roots hold the sand during for instance a hurricane), to keep vegetation like grass on the beach itself, don't remove the sea grass, don't dredge and don't remove the mangrove in front of the beach.
As this often conflicts with economic interests (including yours, Elbert), a compromise is often necessary, and I think a plan to prevent erosion should become mandatory.
Live and let live
Re: San Pedro Suns Article on Beaches
#256847 11/15/0705:57 PM11/15/0705:57 PM
I agree with most of that Short. mangroves in front are beautiful to me and creating someone else's idea of a beach is a large part of the problem. The sea walls them selfs cause the erosion with or without dredging. Thats what I got from what he said.
In California I took a fascinating class on Marine Biology. This class consisted of five weekends at various beaches studying a variety of things. One week end was devoted to surveying a beach. We also collected vials of sand showing the different layers and documented what critters lived at each level. This teacher had been doing this beach with each class for years and had the results posted around the room above the chalk boards. What it proved was that the ocean washes sand in and the oceans takes sand out. This happens on a very predictable schedule. If I remember correctly the winter storms take the beach away and the spring calmer seas brings the sand back giving us nice beaches for the summer. (But is should be noted you will freeze your butt off in the summer at Northern California beaches. The Spring and Fall are the times to go there.) Marinas and sea walls interfere with this natural rotation of the beaches and sand spits build up causing all kinds of problems. I’ve been told that the caves under Ambergris Caye that were just north of the cut have now been filled in with sand because of the sea walls to the north.
I went out this morning and planted some Mangrove on my beach just to observe its growth and see how practical transplanting it can be.I have a feeling its such a slow growth plant I won't live to see a difference.Shore plants are probably the ticket.
In many cases people have wanted to keep their beaches "natural" but when the neighbours to the north or south dredge and put in sea walls the only way for you to retain your beach and prevent erosion is to combat with your own sea wall. It is such a shame but once a wall is erected or dredging occurs the natural ebb and flow is affected and the currents will always find the path of least resistance.
Of course our wish for nature sure intereferes with progress and development. It is a tough decision deciding when and where we should curb development.
When I lived in San Pablo I loved the mangroves - the habitat was amazing - tons of birds, lizards, buggies, and crocodiles. When we experienced hurricane Keith I know that the mangroves protected our land from erosion.
Replanting mangroves is an option, but it is a lonnngggg term solution.
Hey, ideally we would have a pier every 1/2 mile of coast line, buildings set back at least 150 ft from the high tide mark, no seawalls and dredging only to keep the channels open for each pier. Of course this means we would need a decent road to transport goods.
But that isn't gonna happen.
It takes a very tough approach by local government in order to make rules that all should live by. But being tough is political suicide in many cases.
I don't understand why development or no development is linked to sea wall and dredging, Is it so necessary that we can't have development with out sea wall and dredging? Its 90% residents that have the sea wall, and most of that is foreign residents that felt it necessary for why?
Thankfully we have a lovely little beach in my neighbourhood where the kids and dogs can run right into the sea and play.
We have sea snakes, little rays, tons of crabs, snails, sea cucumbers, etc etc that we can enjoy watching. This is one of the few places on the island where the land crabs can enter the sea to lay their eggs.
Some of the neighbours did dredge and you can see the repercussions of these actions when we get big seas! Wow, the waves are incredible and when they hit the nearby seawalls the spray is amazing. The damage of beach erosion is guaranteed after big stormy seas.
I think that many of the non-fulltime-residents that put in sea walls either did it because of a misguided belief that it was necessary to avoid erosion, or because the neighbours had put in walls so they had to continue the wall or receive the brunt of the damage when the seas energy is directed at the path of least resitance.
Because we have the turtle grass and shallow depths near the coast the dredging goes hand in hand with development due to the the need of delivery of construction materials.
Over the years here I have seen thousands of mangroves removed. People seem to forget those plants built this island, and are incredible protection from storms. I have planted hundreds, and have lived to see them grow, but admittedly most have been removed.
When I planted them all along the road across the bridge (which would have played a part in keeping the road) they were pulled up by a developer who said "I have spent years trying to get rid of of those damn things, and now we have stupid Gringos planting them!"