The impacts of tourist and residential development on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast : Umhlanga Rocks to Salt Rock.
The multiple uses of coastal space, the implications of coastal processes on society and the fragility of the marine - terrestrial interface requires integrated and sustainable coastal management strategies - one where humans can live harmoniously with nature. On the KwaZulu-Natal north coast of South Africa, property development is a key feature of economic development. The last two years have witnessed an unprecedented increase in up - market real estate along this coastline. This has been based on an increasing demand for coastal property for the development of tourist, commercial and residential development. It is also a sector that has contributed much towards environmental damage to sections of the coastline and places a considerable burden on current infrastructure (sewage, water and roads). A time-series analysis of aerial photography, spanning a period of 20 years (1983 and 2003), was used to assess the collective impacts of development on both land use and important ecosystems since 1983. The rate of change indicates significant decreases in coastal forest (3%), cultivated land (3%), rivers (1 %), sugar cane (3%) and untransformed grassland (1 %). There was a concomitant increase in non - residential development (2%), residential (4%), transformed grassland (2%), transport corridors (2%) and wetlands (0.4%). A social perspective from a total sample of 50 respondents was achieved by administering questionnaires off five different key coastal stakeholders (planners/managers/local authorities, CBOs, environmental groups, developers and tourism interest groups) to establish their perspectives on overall development, legislation, the state of the environment and stakeholder participation in coastal issues in the study area. The results yielded the following: development is currently occurring in an ad hoc fashion due to the amount of land owned privately. This is further compounded by the lack of legislation such as land use management systems and a Coastal Management Act which would allow for control over development. The biggest non-compliance issue is adhering to environmental management plans (EMPs). There are conflicts and constraints coupled with capacity issues which do not allow for effective management or the curtailment of bad land uses. The environment is being impacted on to a large degree through rationalization rather than expanding environmental concerns. Lastly, while stakeholders in the area are active, political decisions are still taken. In conclusion, while the White Paper for Sustainable Coastal Zone Management in South Africa advocates' sustainability', the only thing being sustained on this coastline is development. This coastline will probably provide significant opportunities for tourism, but its amenity from a natural perspective will be lost.