The Sustainable Carrying Capacity as a Tool for Environmental Beach Management

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In the last decades, the Portuguese coastal area registered an intensification of the tourism activity in general and specially during the summer season. This intensification has originated highly significant negative impacts, due to the growing beach occupation, as well as the increased massive use of the coastal ecosystems. The use of specific tools such as carrying capacity can represent a great support for a suitable environmental management of sites with high environmental vulnerability, such as beaches, promoting a sustainable economic and a socially fair use. The Avencas Beach, located on the coast of the Municipality of Cascais, was chosen as a case study area due to its increased ecological vulnerability and its high demand as a recreational zone. It has been classified as Avencas Biophysical Interest Zone (Zona de Interesse Biofísico das Avencas - ZIBA) since 1998 in order to protect living marine resources and to prohibit certain threatening activities. The methodology of this study consisted on fieldwork and data collection, which occurred in August 2010, and it was based on the counts of vacationers and vehicles that were on the area at the time of the data gathering. Surveys were created to determine users' perceptions and opinions, as a support to evaluate social carrying capacity. The achieved results show that the maximum observed number of users (569 users) exceeded the carrying capacity values proposed by the Plan of Coastal Management (156 users), that the majority of those enquired (67%) are satisfied with the number of people on the beach and that they are, also, satisfied with this beach, mainly with aspects like Beauty/Landscape and Security.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)1411-1414
JournalJournal Of Coastal Research
Issue numberSI 64
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

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