Evaluation of coastline changes and hazards in Jamaica to improve hazard reduction strategies for coastal communities (Beach Erosion And Coastal Hazards: Ensuring Safety)

A two-year study, funded by the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, was being carried out by members of the Marine Geology Unit of the Department of Geography and Geology, UWI, in co-operation with the Unit for Disaster Studies of the Department. The acronym, Beach Erosion And Coastal Hazards: Ensuring Safety, B.E.A.C.H.E.S., has been chosen as a user-friendly moniker for the project. The project was designed to address and provide improved measures of hazard susceptibility for the problem of coastal erosion, which increasingly affects Jamaica’s primary tourist destination, the beaches and coastline.

The project acquierd and analyzed current and historical data, mainly in the form of current and historical aerial survey photographs, maps and other documents, for the Jamaican coastline. These are being used to provide quantitative data on the rates of erosion along selected stretches of the coast, from which coastline change and hazard maps will be prepared. From these, mitigation strategies will be developed for the more critical parts of the coastline. As part of the project selected coastal communities in the critical areas will be involved in the planning and development of enhanced awareness of coastal hazards and in will be trained to become familiar with the uses of the maps and database. The first community to be involved in the project was that of St. Margaret’s Bay, Portland.