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Management of the Belgian Coast: opinions and solutions
De Ruyck, A.M.C. (1999). Management of the Belgian Coast: opinions and solutions. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL): Leuven. 27 + tables pp.

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    Marine

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  • De Ruyck, A.M.C.

Abstract
    To determine the view with which the Belgian public sees the Belgian coast and in order to obtain their opinions and solutions to the problems along the Belgian coast, a questionnaire survey was held by telephone or personally with 20 respondents in each of 5 groups active in the coastal zone. The five groups entailed 1) politicians on various levels of authority, 2) coastal entrepreneurs and business people, 3) naturalists and scientists, 4) coastal residents and 5) tourists. Respondents generally rated the information about the coast and its problems coming from scientists as unclear and unavailable, whereas the information from interest groups and the media was most available but sometimes inaccurate. The majority of respondents from all groups saw the coast as over developed and over commercialised and perceived the lack of nature as a serious disadvantage. Other important problems mentioned were: 1) structural chaos due to the lack of an integrated long term structural plan for the entire coast with legal power to avoid unnecessary duplication of facilities and other damaging practices along the coast, 2) the absence of strict application of structural plans and rules, even the few with a legal base such as the Dunes decree 3) continued frittering of and construction in dunes and natural areas 4) traffic and parking problems 5) environmental degradation due to mass tourism 6) aging of coastal cities and lack of investment into tourism by the government and private sector and 7) dune water exploitation which puts the dune vegetation in jeopardy due to lowering of the water table. Solutions put forward addressed the above problems, the most important being an immediate stop to building in the dunes, and nature conservation and restoration.Nature conservation policies were perceived to have improved over the last 3 years but more was deemed necessary. Economic and industrial growth in the coastal zone was seen as undesirable, and touristic development was to be strictly controlled and guided. Alternative types of (all weather) recreation, especially naturerecreation, were lacking. Respondents held especially past municipalities responsible for the current coastal problems, at the same time blaming the higher authorities for giving too much power to the municipalities. Furthermore, most respondents wereskeptical about the application of the Dune decree and structural plans and their power to protect the remaining natural areas.The root of the problems seem to lie in lack of coordination and communication between different authorities responsible for the coastal zone. Education of tourists and multi-disciplinary research in the coastal zone are essential for any management policies to stem the pressures on and reverse the degeneration of the coastal zone.

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