Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean



Climate change – A mapping of the coastal zones at risk in the Var


What will the effects of climate change be on the Mediterranean coastline? The coastal risk index, drawn up by Plan Bleu and MedSea Foundation, has produced a mapping of the coastal areas at risk in the Var département, a first in France.

Photo GTur
Photo GTur
The authorities in charge of the development and management of coastal areas in the Var will now have at their disposal a detailed mapping of the coastal zones at risk from the effects of climate change. These new tools have been developed as part of the Coastal Area Management Plan (CAMP) launched by the French Government in 2015 for a period of 30 months. The fruit of close cooperation between the MAP (Mediterranean Action Plan), the CAMP's Regional Activity Centre (PAP/RAC) based in Split, Croatia and the French coastal agency, the Conservatoire du Littoral, the CAMP aims to bring about an integrated coastal zones management in an environmentally sensitive sector.

The Var coast stretches over 432 km, with two main archipelagos and numerous islands and islets. It is under huge pressure in a département that ranks second in France regarding the number of tourist arrivals. "In the mapping process, we retained 19 variables targeting the different types of pressures (social, economic and environmental) the Var coastal zone is subjected to, its vulnerabilities (morphological and geographic) as well as its risk exposures. The most difficult part was identifying and bringing together disparate sources of information and working with different database formats," explains Plan Bleu programme officer, Antoine Lafitte. 

Preventing risk and better adapting to climate change

Included in the CAMP, the organization of Land-Sea Forums has brought together scientists, decision-makers and managers to exchange and share knowledge, which has contributed to feed the database. In a second step, the calculation of the index enabled a "coastal hazards zone" to be established in which the risks are quantified and classified. This zone takes into account the most pessimistic scenario drawn up by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the rise in sea levels between now and 2100.

 "The aim is to provide decision-makers with a simple but scientifically robust decision-making tool for the purposes of prevention, in order to build a culture of adaptation to climate change," points out Antoine Lafitte. Three areas  subject to a specific risk of coastline erosion and submersion have been put under the microscope: Grimaud and Saint-Raphaël municipalities and Les Vieux Salins, part of Hyères and owned by the Conservatoire du Littoral.

This mapping of areas at risk, drawn up today for the Var département, should serve as a model to extend the implementation of the index to other coastal zones in the Mediterranean. A project is being put forward to apply the index to the coastal zone straddling the borders between France, Monaco and Italy. 

In partnership with le Plan Bleu

Version française


Christiane Navas, NICE

Monday, July 18th 2016

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