June storms have caused 'worrying' erosion
Saturday 16 June 2012, 07:48PM
The storms that hit the Andaman coast of Thailand earlier this month are estimated to have caused erosion damage of as much as B100 million.
A survey done by specialists from the Erosion Prevention on Andaman Coast (EPAC) project revealed that 15 metres of shoreline disappeared on Koh Lanta between June 6 and 9, with more than 60 beach-front hotels and homes effected.
The damage in terms of loss of land and coastal natural resources is estimated on Lanta alone at round B40 million.
The survey has not yet been completed for Phuket. But from damage seen on the shore, environmental experts see Phuket as one of the most worrying areas for rapid coastal erosion.
Engineering expert Prof Payom Rattanamanee, who is also head of the EPAC project, said that coomparison of aerial photographs showed that around 30 metres of Phuket’s shore had been lost to the sea in just two years.
“Nai Yang beach is the most worrying because of the value of its natural resources,” said Prof Payom. “When we have finished analysing the situation, we expect the results will show that coastal erosion on Phuket has been severe.”
Since the Asian Tsunami of 2004, Phuket’s coast has been battered by waves that have left only a thin buffer zone to protect the shore. This has been aggravated by beach-front areas in many places being cleared for new development.
Clear evidence of the loss of beachfront to erosion can be seen in the location of bungalows and a restaurant run by the Sirinat National Park office .
The tropical-style buildings were wiped out by the tsunami, when they were located 30 metres inland from the sea. The location where they were is now next to the water.
This year, waves and currents are reported to be unusually strong at Nai Yang, and local people told The Phuket News that around 10 metres of Nai Yang Beach have been devoured by waves in the first half of the year. In addition, trees that are valuable in containing erosion have been knocked over.
One of the local fishermen earning a living in the sea off Nai Yang beach, Suwan Plodbhut, 44, said that fish catches had been falling because the coral reef off the beach, which acts as a nursery, had been damaged by erosion.
“The number of fish close to shore has fallen off, so we have to sail further for our catches, which means we have to pay more for fuel,” said Mr Suwan. “We only lose.”
He added that if Phuket’s shore continues to be eroded, fishermen will soon have no space to repair their boats on seafront land.
An environmental expert who join EPAC project, Prof Nopparat Bamrungrak, said that there are various ways to protect coastlines from erosion protection, but they have both pros and cons.
“We could build an embankment to protect the coast, but it would ruin the scenery,” said Prof Nopparat. “Or we could plant some strong-rooted plants, but we would need to wait for two years or more before the plants would be effective.”
Staff of the EPAC project will meet local people on June 29 for more discussions on problems and solutions.