Environmental function analysis as a beach management tool: The Eastern shore of Nova Scotia Canada
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Globally, sandy beaches are in a state of accelerated erosion and degradation due to various anthropogenic and natural stressors imposed on these complex coastal systems. In Nova Scotia, protection of sandy beaches has been a growing concern for management authorities. Within provincial jurisdiction, beach management and conservation strategies can be implemented mainly through two Acts: the Provincial Parks Act and the Beaches Act. However, the designation process associated with higher protection status lacks a systematic approach and is generally influenced by lobbying. Historically, beach management in Nova Scotia has focused on recreational use, facilities development, and standardization of beach management practices, which are poorly adapted to local environments and induce further degradation and conflicts. This graduate project seeks to increase the efficiency and legitimacy of beach management and conservation initiatives using a locally adapted Environmental Function Analysis (EFA) as a planning tool. EFA assesses environmental quality indicators to evaluate beach conservation value and use/development potential, suggests the most appropriate sites for conservation, use and development, and highlights conflict zones. Using a case study approach, four popular sandy beaches, found in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) region of the Eastern Shore, were evaluated. EFA not only provides general observations allowing beaches to be compared and contrasted, but it also gives useful insight on individual beaches, allowing for better-informed decision-making and tailored management. The simplified EFA methodology proposed is user-friendly, provides conclusive results, and offers a cost-effective approach to sandy beach environment evaluation.