Among the places at risk are the underwater prairies of Posidonia, vital to the sandy coasts for which Spain has become known. It has been calculated that the disappearance of one single metre of these prairies can lead to the loss of 15 to 18 metres of beach. And the beaches and sand are not just for sunbathing: they are essential for the creation of lagoons, lakes, salt marshes and deltas, and many of these formations impact upon the water cycle on the coast.
Another feature of the landscape � cliffs � support a diversity of life such as great nesting colonies of marine birds and the flora of crags, and continue beneath the surface, where submarine caves and the coral landscapes stand out because of their biological wealth.
The driving force for change along the coast during the past few decades is mass tourism. Sprawling along the Spanish Mediterranean coast, tourism has largely forgotten to take into account the capacity of natural systems to adapt to the pressures it imposes.
Construction of buildings, sports harbors, piers and the regeneration of beaches are changing the coast and leading to the deterioration of these coastal systems. In addition, over the last few years, enforcement of the regulations that protect the coast has been relaxed, which could lead to even greater alteration and degradation.
Industrial and sports fishing, excessive water consumption, the contamination of marine (urban, industrial and agricultural) and fresh water, the gathering of fish for aquariums and decoration, sailing, anchoring, and the introduction of extraneous species are some of the other activities that can have destructive consequences for the coastal ecosystems.
Safeguarding the coast
Every year since 1998, WWF/Adena and the Savings Bank of the Mediterranean (CAM) have carried the a fondo campaign to raise awareness among Spanish citizens about the importance of the Mediterranean, the most urgent problems it faces, and the possible solutions to them.
During the summers of 1998 and 1999, on board a campaign boat, the Galeon I, they cleaned up of the bottom of some harbors with the help of divers. Last year the campaign focused on the Posidonia prairies, with the motto Posidonia, the marine forest. Awareness raising actions were carried out on the beaches and beach users were taken to see this amazing ecosystem in situ.
This year, with the motto A frontier to life, the campaign highlights the ecological and economic importance of the Mediterranean coast, a frontier to three constantly interrelated worlds: air, water, and land.
WWF/Adena and the CAM believe that it is crucial for all citizens to participate in if we are to preserve the Mediterranean coast. The a fondo campaign is also urging European citizens to demand that environmental regulations be complied with, from the Coastal Regulation to the Directives on Habitat and Environmental Impact, as well as the International Agreements subscribed to by the Spanish government.
Safeguarding the coasts and oceans also means moderating personal consumption of water, respecting wild flora and fauna, reducing individual consumption of combustible fuels and not consuming undersized fish.
Visiting or living on the Spanish coast? Then take the chance to participate and help conserve the life on the frontier on the following beaches: July 28 on the Playa de Poniente, Benidorm
July 29 on the Playa de Levante, Benidorm
August 1 and 2 on the Playa de Gandia
August 4 and 5 on the Playa de El Saler, in Valencia
August 8 on the Playa Torre San Vicente in Benicassim
August 9 on the Playa Heliopolis in Benicassim
August 12 and 13 on the Platja de Levant in Salou
August 17 and 18 on the Playa de Alcudia
August 21 on Playa de Palmanova, Calvià
August 22 on Playa de Santa Ponça, Calvià
August 25 on the Playa de S�Arenal in Sant Antoni de Portmany
August 26 on the Playa de Es Pouet in Sant Antoni de Portmany
August 28 on the Playa de Talamanca, in Eivissa
August 29 on the Playa d�en Bossa, in Eivissa
August 29 is the close of the campaign in the Harbor of Ibiza (starting at 20.00 hours).
For further information: Miguel A. Valladares en WWF/Adena. Tel. 913 54 05 78 Leonardo Tomás, CAM. Tel. 965 90 53 00