It has been suggested that climate change across the globe will significantly impact on coastlines everywhere. Cape Town’s 307km of coastline are no exception, a study done by the City of Cape Town and consultants has said that our coast lines are particularly vulnerable.
Cambridge University hosted a seminar in Cape Town where Stockholm’s Environmental Institute economist Anton Cartwright spoke of sea levels rising by 15cm by 2020 and by two thirds of a metre by the end of the century. This rise will have a knock on effect, not only causing the frequency and intensity of storms around the coast line to increase, but also rendering current flood defences useless during these storms.
These findings have concluded in a risk assessment stating that in 25 years there is an 85% probability of 60.9km2, or 2% of the metro area being cover by sea for a short period. The estimated real estate loss is set at R20 billion.
Gregg Oelofse of the Environmental Resource Management at the City of Cape Town believes there are a number of things that can be done to help reduce the risk of coastal storms.
Firstly, the natural coastline of the area should be protected and all coastal or strip development stopped. The highly developed coastline of the Cape Peninsula is hindering the coastlines natural ability to recover after storm events.
“A healthy natural coastline is the best defence against storms and, thus, it should be preserved and maintained,” elaborates Oelofse.
Similarly, he believes that it is necessary to increase investment into the maintenance of the natural coastline.
He also believes that short term economic decisions and benefits should be put to one side and a longer term plan for protecting the coastline put into place which takes priority.
Oelofse also states that it is necessary to start putting together a framework that will allow the City of Cape Town to make long-term sustainable choices.
Most significantly, Oelofse states that it is essential that the City of Cape Town builds and retains a coastal managements skills pool, as, currently, the local government employs no coastal engineers.
The City of Cape Town’s is at present incorporating this research into their planning legislation and using it in the defining and upholding of a coastal buffer zone.