La Digue students learn how to profile beaches


La Digue students learning about beach profiling

A coastal vulnerability team comprising Dr Danika Van Proosdij and Greg Baker from St Mary’s University in Canada gave Powerpoint presentations before explaining to the students why it is important to monitor beaches.

Dr Danika Van Proosdij and Greg Baker are members of a group of researchers from the CARIBSAVE partnership who have been conducting a series of interviews and assessment under the Global Islands’ Vulnerability Research, Adaptation, Policy and Development project.

The two-year project is being done in four countries, namely St Lucia, Jamaica, Mauritius and Seychelles. The project seeks to understand the multi-scale socioeconomic, governance and environmental conditions that shape vulnerability and capacity to adapt to climate change within and between small and medium-size communities.

One component of the GIVRAPD project is to conduct a contemporary coastal vulnerability assessment in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the challenges, strengths and adaptive capacity of the local communities to climate change eventualities.

The coastal vulnerability team of Dr Van Proosdij and Mr Baker mapped the shoreline of the study areas which were Anse Royale and La Digue using a YUMA GIS tablet, noting areas of erosion, shore protection, foreshore, backshore and nearshore types and vulnerable infrastructures. They also profiled beaches – calculating slope and width every 100 metres using the Emery method along the beaches in the study areas. All data collected once processed will be passed on to the Ministry of Environment and Energy for its GIS database and will complement the coastal assessment conducted in 2008.

Before leaving La Digue, after they had completed their assessment exercise, the two researchers conducted a learning session with the La Digue secondary 4 and 5 students who will be sitting for IGCSE geography.

The session started with a Powerpoint presentation on beach profiling and monitoring where Dr Proosdij and Mr Barker gave the students information about how to conduct beach monitoring and why it is important to monitor beaches. The students were able to ask questions and also had a chance to see satellite images and aerial photos of La Digue. This was followed by a short field work where students had the opportunity to look at coastal indicators and issues concerned with long shore drift. They also did beach profiling using the Emery method.

La Digue School geography teacher Eric Atulo, who accompanied the group of students, was grateful to the two researchers for offering such a great learning opportunity to the students. He explained that the issues covered during the session were not only part of the geography curriculum but also features in the IGCSE exam. He believes that the whole exercise will go a long way in equipping the students with the knowledge on how first of all to protect and monitor their beach and in this case they’ll be able to appreciate the importance of the beach and take good care of it.

He also expressed his hope of having more cooperation from the Ministry of Environment and Energy in terms of sending officers to the school to talk to students about beach protection and conservation.

As with the Canadian university, Mr Atulo hopes that they will continue to exchange ideas and also help the school with some materials to ease learning. The two researchers have donated a very useful map of La Digue to the school as well as poles to use for beach profiling which the teacher believes the students will make very good use of.