Current status and future restoration of coastal dune systems on the Catalan shoreline (Spain, NW Mediterranean Sea)

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Coastal dunes are an essential part of beach-dune systems. Dunes systems have their own intrinsic values and provide a range of goods and services, including the protection of tangible goods located on the shoreline affected by waves, storms, and sea erosion. Dunes also act as repositories of biodiversity that have their exclusive habitat in dune communities, and the aesthetic value of dune landscapes derived from unique plant communities and landforms is also of great importance. Nevertheless, dune systems on developed coasts suffered a drastic decline in geomorphological and ecological quality throughout the last century. Catalonia (Spain, NW Mediterranean Sea) is no exception, and the coastal dune systems which were present in the early 20th century have now disappeared due to urbanization. The regeneration of dune systems is of crucial importance in this context. The aim of this study is to assess the current status of dune systems in Catalonia in order to determine their future prospects based on beach characteristics, those beaches likely to host dunes being determined according to their width and sediment type. The results of our study show that nowadays most dune systems in Catalonia are not developed due to human pressure on the beaches. Only those beaches located in the natural protected areas in Roses Bay, Baix Ter Bay, the Llobregat Delta, and especially the Ebro Delta, have the right characteristics to host well-developed dune systems. That said, 30% of sandy beaches in Catalonia have a width of over 35 metres; wide enough to host well-developed dune systems if appropriate integrated beach management is applied. The methodology used in this research also provide a tool to assess which are the beaches that can host dunes on other developed shores in the Mediterranean area ​
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