Coastline in the municipality of Esposende will retreat 28 meters by 2043

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The coastline in the North Coastal Park strip, in Esposende, will retreat, on average, 28 meters until 2043, with the Torres de Ofir area being “the most vulnerable” at regional and national level, a study reveals today.

The projection is contained in the final report of the CLICTOUR project, whose results are being presented today at the School of Economics and Management of the University of Minho, in Braga, and whose analysis of climate trends has identified some predictable impacts, especially the worsening of forest fires, the reduction of available water resources and the continued retreat of the coastline.

The research work, in collaboration with the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF), focused on three protected natural areas – the Peneda-Gerês National Park (PNPG), the Alvão Natural Park (PNA), and the North Coast Natural Park (PNLN) – with the aim of supporting the development of climate change resilient tourism in the protected areas of northern Portugal.

In the context of the CLICTOUR project, the coastal strip of the NNPLN was monitored at different points in time, and it was possible, using drones, to create digital maps and coastal topographic models that allowed the projection of an average retreat of the coastline of 28 meters by 2043.

Overall, between 2006 and 2023, the shoreline receded across the entire coastal strip of the NWFP, and between 2010 and 2023 alone it was 19 meters.

According to the document, to which Lusa had access, the most critical area of the entire PNLN Park corresponds to the coastal strip between the northern end of the Restinga de Ofir (mouth of the Cávado river) and Praia da Bonança.

This coastal segment, the study points out, besides having much higher erosion rates than other areas of the PNLN, suffers from enormous tourist pressure, with Ofir Beach being one of the busiest in the region in the summer months.

The existence of tourist and residential buildings and infrastructure close to the coastline means that this area “is one of the most vulnerable to rising sea levels, both regionally and nationally”, and several coastal defense projects have been carried out in this area over the last few years.

The results also show that the shoreline in this section has retreated an average of 10 meters between 2006 and 2023 (1.12 meters/year), however, in some places, there has been a sea advance of more than 70 meters since 2006, due to variations from the northern end of the Restinga de Ofir.

In the scope of the Coastal Zone Program Caminha-Espinho (POC-CE), and due to the advance of the sea, in the municipality of Esposende, more than a hundred demolitions are planned, among houses, outbuildings and restaurants, in the critical areas of Cedovém, Pedrinhas and Ofir Sul.

In May, questioned about the Towers of Ofir – a critical area identified in the POC-CE as ‘areas subject to study’ – the mayor of Esposende, Benjamim Pereira, considered that, at the moment, they are not a problem, stressing that it would take about 50 million Euros just to pay for the demolition of the three towers.

Due to its location below the southern spur of Ofir, Bonança Beach is, according to the study, another problematic site. In this case, the advance of the sea was more than 30 meters since 2010. The dune destruction was such that implied that the soccer field that serves the existing hotel on the site had to be relocated further north to avoid its destruction.

Along the entire coastline, they warn, are identified infrastructures, including homes, “that are in danger, and in some cases there has already been destruction of buildings by these processes of coastal erosion.

In addition to the direct impact of these processes on coastal environments, the researchers found that they have significant impacts on the various activities related to tourism, either by reducing the area useful for its practice (reduction of the dune and beach area), or by changing the conditions necessary for its implementation.

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