Human Impact on the Coastal Landscape

Topics: Coast, Coastal management, Beach Pages: 10 (3592 words) Published: August 31, 2009
Perry Newton
Student # 000-00 1818
Geog 222 Section (1)
Mrs Sandra Burrows
Date: November 4, 2008
The Human Impact on Coastal Landscape

The relationship between humans and their environment is a topic that engenders much debate. Humans are intellectual. They can think, reason, feel and make deductions or hypothesis and seek to solve or prove their deductions or theories. The environment on the other hand is inanimate and exists by means of natural laws and principles that govern the universe. It cannot prevent man’s exploitations; it cannot take up arms and fight. However, in its own way, by natural laws, it makes efforts to purge and renew itself from the effects of man’s endeavors. Mangor (2002) argues that like the ocean that shapes coastal landforms, the coasts are dynamic aspects of the environment that are in constant change. Thus, by means of its natural processes such as sea level rise, waves and various phenomenon, erosion, accretion and reshaping of coasts, flooding and the creation of continental shelves it defends itself against man. A specific aspect of the environment that engenders conversation is the coastal landscape: its beauty, its purpose, its abuse, and its future. Other aspects of the coastal landscape that engender discussion are those animate expressions of nature such as fossils and vegetations, birds and crustaceans, fishes and other wild life that depend on it for survival. Humans are the guardians of coastal landscapes, and they have affected them both positively and negatively. Some of the ways that they have impacted the landscape is by dredging, pollution, constructing buildings, land reclamation, creating beaches, planting exotic vegetations and trees, erecting sea walls, and by destroying natural habitats of wild life. Therefore, understanding what a coastal landscape is and how humans have influenced it is the subject of this paper. Coastal landscape is that part of a continent, island or cay, where the land meets the sea or more specifically, where the land ends. Burke et al (2001) noted that a coast is that part of an island or continent that borders an ocean or its salt-water tributaries. Hence, there are many names given to coastal landforms such as bay, gulf, shore, bank, rock and others. In addition, coastal landforms can be sheltered or exposed to the ocean. Burke et al (2001) suggest that a pelagic coast is one where the ocean comes directly in contact with the land ending. He noted further that a more sheltered coast is one where a large area of a sea or ocean is partially enclosed by land. Thus, to get an appreciation of the ways humans impact coastal landforms; an understanding of the term coastal landscape is imperative. Whilst other countries will be considered, this paper will concentrate mostly on coastal landforms in the Bahamas. Coastal landforms be it bay, bank, shore, gulf or rock serve a specific purpose and is name based on where it is located. For example, a bay is identified when the ocean comes into the land through a wide mouth (American Heritage College Dictionary pg 117). On the other hand, Webster’s dictionary defines a bank as a slope of land adjoining a body of water or a large elevated area of a sea floor. Additionally, a rock is a term used in the vernacular of the inhabitants of San Salvador to describe coastal landforms where the sea adjoins the land at a rocky area. On the other hand, the term “shore” in the Bahamian vernacular describes any point of a coastal landscape where the land and the sea meet whether it is rocky or sandy. The ocean is the chief sphere of humans’ activities, and in order to get there, it must be accessed from the coastline. Mangor (2002) noted that the high levels of biodiversities in the ocean create high levels of biological activities, which have attracted human activities for thousands of years. Moreover, the ocean is used for gathering fishes and maritime delicacies, as transportation...
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