Beaches are the landforms that exist along large water bodies and they are made up of various materials that might include sand, gravel, or rock. Haller states that the term ‘beach’ is widely defined as “the zone of loose or unconsolidated material extending from the mean low water line to a point landward where the topography abruptly changes or permanent vegetation appears” (71). These landforms are a natural habitat to many flora and fauna and they play a crucial role in human life. There are wide ranges of benefits obtained from beaches.
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The Benefits of the Beach
The most important economic benefit of beaches is that they serve as a tourist attraction site. Tourism is the largest economic activity in the world and it not only earns countries foreign revenue, but also acts as a large employer for the local population. Frampton notes that the primary importance of a beach to a local community is providing amenity and associated economic income from tourists (1112). While tourists travel to foreign destinations for various reasons, beaches are the most popular tourist destinations. Pleasant sandy beaches are popular with tourists who use these spaces for recreational purposes. A study by Haller indicates that most visitors regularly name beaches as their main reason to visit coastal regions (72).
The presence of a beach therefore benefits the country by attracting foreign tourists. These tourists spend millions of dollars during their visits thus boosting the economy. In addition to this, tourists promote the growth of businesses that emerge to provide goods or services for the tourism industry.
Beaches assist in the protection of coastal structures from destruction from storms. Proximity to the sea or ocean is considered an advantage by many businesses. For this reason, many urban settlements all over the world are found along the coast. Diverse buildings and infrastructure characterize these settlements. Natural and artificial structures present along the coast are at risk of damage from storm surges and high tides that might occur at certain times of the month. Wide beaches help to protect the coastal structures by creating enough space for the ocean current energy to dissipate.
The beach also protects the upland structures by forming storm bars, which prevent storms from breaking into the upland. Coastal structures and infrastructures are therefore protected by the beach since the water from the ocean does not reach them. Speybroeck confirms that without expansive beaches, coastal property would be exposed to the destructive effects of storms, such as hurricanes and tsunamis (172). Beaches therefore safeguard property from damage.
Beaches play an important role in providing recreation avenues for humans. This recreation role is especially significant for people who live in urban areas. Beaches all around the world are becoming increasingly urbanized and human access to sandy shores is increasing. Beaches play a major role in recreation for the world population living within 50 km of the coast. Beaches provide a wide range of recreational opportunities including swimming, sunbathing, volleyball, walking, and beachcombing. Speybroeck explains that in many parts of the world, beaches have been highly developed for recreational purposes (171). The beaches provide an opportunity for people to not only relax but also exercise and socialize in a beautiful environment.
In addition to benefiting humans, the beach contributes to the sustenance of flora and fauna. Beaches are a habitat for a number of plant and animal species. The beach ecosystem sustains plant life that relies on the nutrients present in the sand to thrive. A number of these species require the beach for their survival. Sea turtles make use of the beach to hatch their eggs and therefore ensure the survival of their species. Crabs also live in the various parts of the beach. Many bird species rely on the beach for their continuity. While most of the birds find their food in the ocean, the beach is the place where they breed and reproduce. According to Meager, Schlacher and Nielsen, sandy beaches are important nesting and roosting habitats for birds (295). Shorebirds rely on beaches and a decline in this habitat due to natural factors such as erosion has led to the decline and endangerment of many shorebird species.
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Beach resources play an important role in the social and economic prosperity of humans. This paper set out to highlight the various benefits that are obtained from the beaches. It began by defining the beach landform and proceeded to highlight the various benefits obtained from this feature. The paper has noted that beaches are beneficial to humans and wildlife. However, the important beach resources are at risk due to climate change and erosion, which have caused shrinkage of this vital resource. The many benefits of beaches have led to local governments increasing their beach management activities. These activities involve maintaining or improving a beach to ensure that it remains a recreational resource and a means of coast protection. By doing this, the benefit of beaches can continue to be enjoyed by both human beings and wildlife into the distant future.
Frampton, Alan. “A Review of Amenity Beach Management.” Journal of Coastal Research 26.6 (2010): 1112-1122. Web.
Haller, Inga. “Will Beaches be enough? Future Changes for Coastal Tourism at the German Baltic Sea.” Journal of Coastal Research 61.1 (2011): 70-80. Web.
Meager, Justine, Thomas Schlacher and Tara Nielsen. “Humans alter habitat selection of birds on ocean-exposed sandy beaches.” Diversity & Distributions 18.3(2012): 294-306. Web.
Speybroeck, Jeroen. “The Belgian sandy beach ecosystem: a review.” Marine Ecology 29.1 (2008): 171-185. Web.