Although there is clear scientific evidence and consensus of the ecological role and relevance of Posidonia oceanica and dunes in coastal ecosystems, the lack of a consistent legal framework and existing social perceptions are preventing their sustainable management. Moreover, many municipalities and local stakeholders are demanding sustainable solutions for the management of banquettes. New management approaches are needed, which have to focus on the conservation of the integrated coastal ecosystem, considering how management practices affect the health of the entire ecosystem and the resilience of the coastline.
These Guidelines include a Governance Strategy and Action Plan to address these challenges, by providing:
No technological requirements are specified in the Guidelines.
Personnel should receive training each year on beach cleaning policies, characteristics of the Posidonia littoral zone and how to recognise and mitigate impacts.
An approximate estimate of the costs associated with each removal option (high-low) is included in the Guidelines.
The Guidelines include a framework of reference for decision making, particularly for large Posidonia banquettes, that considers beach functions (protection and recreation) and the integration of the ecosystem.
The strategic objective is to achieve the sustainable management of Posidonia beaches, while maintaining the environmental value in some areas (e.g. Protected Areas), and the recreational value in others.
The tactical level reflects beach typologies in order to take into consideration the (local) social expectations and present perceptions while also maintaining the integrity, ecological function and environmental values of the Posidonia coastline.
At the local level, before any activities are undertaken, benchmarking will help to define a base line: the existing dynamics of the coastal zone and the seagrass deposition and formation of banquettes on the beach/es.
At an operational level, measures for managing Posidonia banquettes are identified and implemented:
Feasibility assessments for each option should be carried out for the evaluation. Finally, the monitoring and evaluation of interventions consists of selecting a series of indicators to monitor the status of the coastal environment, including the beaches and associated dunes. Recommendations are included on beach cleaning (avoiding the use of mechanical methods whenever possible), on disposal options, access of transportation vehicles to the beach, use of the banquettes, and on the issue of beach certification schemes.
Recommended implementation frequency
The management framework proposed by these Guidelines should be periodically reviewed to account for any variation in the ecological and socio-economic systems involved in the assessment and the outcomes of Posidonia banquette management.
Each approach to remove Posidonia banquettes may encounter specific limitations, which should be carefully considered in advance. Some of these have been identified in the Guidelines for the following techniques: disposal offshore, relocation to a point higher in the beach, disposal off-site from the beach, use of heavy machinery on sandy beaches, and the use of machinery on dunes.
As an indicative example, the disposal offshore of the banquettes removed from beaches may threaten the persistence and productivity of seagrass and other marine habitats and reduce water quality. As another example, the relocation to a higher point on the beach may reduce the recycling of nutrients and sand back to the sea, with higher maintenance costs.
The effective implementation of these Guidelines will considerably improve the management of Posidonia banquettes in Mediterranean beaches and dunes.
These Guidelines may be applied by any Mediterranean MPA manager, as they include general recommendations that are applicable to the whole Mediterranean basin. The Guidelines also include a transnational integrated strategy and action plan, which aims to orient regional and national policies and fund bodies and research institutions towards creating suitable conditions for implementing sustainable beach and coastal management practices across Mediterranean areas.
known distribution of Posidonia oceanica forms
depth in the clearest waters
tonnes of seagrass deposits during the winter
Project contact: POSBEMED
Links of interest