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New Forest Coastline

The New Forest coastline is situated between the Dorset border and the Southampton Water on the south-west coast of Britain. It is split into three main areas and is managed mainly by the New Forest District Council but also other councils. The three areas are, Christchurch Bay, Western Solent, and Southampton Water.

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There is a big issue that affects this coastline. The cliffs on the coast are slowly being eroded, and the low-lying areas need to be protected from coastal flooding. Natural landscapes and wildlife habitats need to be protected for people who want to work and visit the areas. This problem attracts a lot of interest from all the councils who try and decide what system and form of protection should be used.

Physical Features & Human Land-use

The coastline is lined with many landforms and the land surrounding the area is used by humans for various activities.

Christchurch Bay between Highcliffe and Hurst Spit has very narrow shingle beaches on its coastline and is backed by cliffs that are up to 30m in height. These cliffs are mainly made of sand and clay and are subject to erosion and in some places the cliffs have retreated up to 60m over 25 years. Even built up areas are exposed to coastal flooding and occasionally experience mudflows and landslips. Hurst Spit itself is vulnerable to the erosion of the sea after having been breached over several years. The area is used mainly for settlement and many villages have been built up along the coast all of which are in danger of flooding and/or collapsing.

The Western Solent between Hurst Spit and Calshot is slightly different to Christchurch Bay. This area is full of coastal marshes with a lot of wildlife and animal habitats. This area is low-lying and therefore there is a major risk of flooding, especially when there are high tides and heavy rain. There are also two river estuaries from the Lymington River and the Beaulieu River. This area is used for boat-building and repair but also for recreational sailing.

Southampton Water is situated between the towns of Calshot and Redbridge. There are coast marshes and intertidal areas with a great nature and wildlife value. The area is at risk from water pollution caused by domestic sewage and industrial waste. This former river estuary has been now developed and is used for major industry including oil refining and there is also a power station. The rest of the area is used for housing.

Why we Need a Coastal Management System

There is a big need for a coastal management system. Human activity has influenced the area because the scenery and recreational activities and potential attract many visitors and holiday-makers. Many other people emigrate there because it provides an attractive environment to live, work and retire. The coastline brings in more money for the locals in the form of “foreigners” and therefore without the coastline many people would have no source of income. However, human activity provides a certain amount of pressure which threatens to change the coastline and its natural ecological balance.

Apart from human factors physical factors hat take place also influence the coastline’s shape. Waves, Currents, groundwater, movements and weathering have a considerable impact on the shape of the coastline and human activity – this must be to be taken into account when deciding management proposals for the coast.

Action taken by the Local Authority

The local authority has done a lot of work involving the coastline and now must set up a management scheme to stop many risks. Over various years many protection methods have been used. Concrete sea-walls were built to protect the cliffs; however it has been proven that actually absorb the wave energy instead of reflecting it. They are also an eye-sore. Groynes have also been introduced in the system and they stop the movement of material along beaches as well as widening them. Low-lying areas have been protected by dykes and flood walls, however some people have suggested that coastal flooding should take place as a natural event even if property is at risk. There have also been attempts to protect wildlife areas and bird sanctuaries.

Their Objectives

The New Forest District Council have many objectives and some are more important than others, including:

1. The coast need to be protected because many properties are lined on the cliff edges and there is a big risk of them collapsing.

2. Areas of value need to be protected as they attract tourists and bring in more money for the locals and the council so they can easily afford to protect the rest of the coastline.

3. The landscape is important as it also brings in more tourists with its natural beauty of which should be protected.

4. Pollution needs to be prevented so any sort of protection doesn’t become eroded by acid rain and also to improve the quality of life and the water that goes into the towns.

5. The coasts’ economy needs to be recognised so it can be maintained and the social functions of the coast can take place.

6. Cooperation is important between everyone from the local councils to the industry owners.

7. Public awareness needs to be improved to let people know where they stand and what danger they are in.

8. Historical aspects needs to protected because they are an important part of history, this is not very important.

9. Developing criteria for the development of the coast is important for future vents and emergencies.

10. The least important is recreational activities as these can be done in many other places.

Alternative Suggestions

There are any other ways in which the coastline can be protected. On the coast many things can be used for protection. A recurved sea wall can reflect the waves and push them back out to the sea. Rip-rap are large boulders used on the coast to absorb the wave energy and disperses it. Gabions are used to absorb some of the wave energy and stop erosion as do wooden revetments. To decide what to use we would use cost-benefit analysis which would allow us to make best use of our money.