An assessment tool for sandy beaches: A case study for integrating beach description, human dimension, and economic factors to identify priority management issues
Sandy beaches offer invaluable services, the overexploitation of which threatens their survival. Management responses may be inappropriate, focussing on limited aspects of beaches and neglecting key characteristics. This study developed and tested a new integrated assessment tool for sandy beaches, using seven recreational South African beaches as case study. The tool was based on a beach description matrix, forming the Beach Description Index; an assessment of beachgoers’ attitude and opinion, forming the Human Dimension Index; and a monetary assessment, forming the Monetary Index. Values for each index were classified according to management attention/recreational favourability, opinion/attitude, and economic value, respectively. The average of the indices formed a Beach Evaluation Index, which was used to rate the performance of and compare the case study beaches. Within limits, the evaluation tool successfully identified management priorities, public concerns, and economic aspects regarding the beaches, all of which can be generalised to other beaches worldwide.