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08 de septiembre 2022

A quantitative three-step approach for guiding sandy beach management

Frank A. Ocaña, Eduardo Cuevas, Luis Sauma-Castillo, Melania López-Castro, Edlin Guerra-Castro.

The complexity of the social, economic, and environmental characteristics of the coastal zone represents a challenge for decision-makers to identify the socio-environmental conditions of sandy beaches and, consequently, the application of effective management measures. In this study, we propose a quantitative three-step approach to meet this need, recognizing the relevance of spatial heterogeneity of the coastal zone and its uses. The first step seeks to evaluate the environmental condition of beaches based on the combined interpretation of standardized indices: Urbanization Index, Conservation Index, and Recreation Index. The second is to classify beaches according to the similarities in these indices to detect trends in use regarding simulated reference sites. The third step aims to identify management strategies and reference conditions for each beach attribute. This three-step approach is illustrated using 24 sandy beaches at six coastal localities in Yucatan, Mexico. As a result, ten beaches were classified as having good environmental conditions, while eight had moderate and six had poor environmental conditions. Beaches were statistically classified into three groups, each with a clear tendency of similarity regarding multipurpose-use simulated reference sites. The results also show that such trends in use are independent of the locality. Finally, appropriate management strategies were recognized for each beach, regardless of the locality to which it belongs. The proposed framework is intended to be applicable for beaches where the main uses are conservation, recreation, coastal development, or a mixture of these uses.

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