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  • Writer's pictureDianne Morocho

Coastal Erosion in Ecuador is No Joke

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

When I moved to Ecuador and bought a house on the beach, I can honestly say ... I had no idea, and the saying that ignorance is bliss is well. true. I had no idea what I was in for or what maintaining a sea wall, constructing a sea wall or the vast sum of money involved in his. I truly thought the sea was quite close to the house, but I did not understand what a problem this can be. The first sea wall I built was supposedly built by an engineer and a professional. I mean in my trusting way assumed they lived here, studied this in school, and had an amazing plan for the construction of my sea wall. I was wrong. He constructed it straight up with basically no slant whatsoever. This meant that when a big wave hit it was similar to being hit head-on by a semi-truck, so this did not hold. After much research, the general feeling was that they had to dig down ten meters layer upon layer of big rocks at a pyramid-like slant to distribute the force of the wave. Then we cemented in around the rocks to prevent the water from getting in and the force of the ocean sucking sand and rocks back out. Four years ago, we had an El Nino year, and it was extreme. Waves are unbelievably high and lots of force behind them. Rain so hard that you could just watch about 10 meters of land goes into the sea within the hour and not to mention the mountain behind us washed down and buried us in mud from that side. So here we are in another El Nino year bracing for the worst in December through April this year and next. We literally saw the helicopter hover over just waiting for one of the houses to go into the sea. Mother Nature is not to be trifled with. So here we are meeting with the municipality of PortoVeijo and their engineer just trying to plan and ride it out. If you don't believe in Global Warming and Climate Change and you never think about how clear-cutting the Amazon Rain Forest affects everything and you do not know how all this makes for a recipe for disaster move to the coast and while you may be sipping your Marqurita and enjoying the beautiful coast ofTitle: Coastal Erosion in Ecuador: A Rising Threat Amplified by Global Warming

Ecuador, , faces a growing and alarming threat: coastal erosion. This phenomenon has intensified over the years, posing serious environmental, economic, and social challenges to the country. While coastal erosion is a natural process, its severity in Ecuador has been exacerbated by various factors, with global warming playing a significant role. Read this more condensed version of why and the extent of coastal erosion in Ecuador, the causes behind it, and the profound impact of global warming on this critical issue.

The Severity of Coastal Erosion in Ecuador

Ecuador boasts approximately 2,237 kilometers (1,390 miles) of coastline along the Pacific Ocean, rich in biodiversity and home to numerous communities. However, this natural beauty is under threat due to coastal erosion, which has been steadily advancing. According to studies conducted by Ecuador's Ministry of Environment, approximately 40% of the country's coast is already suffering from erosion. This rate is alarming and demands immediate attention., when you watch part of your neighbors house fall into the ocean you have a different outlook on things

1. Vulnerable Coastal Communities: Coastal erosion has severe implications for the communities living along Ecuador's shoreline. Villages and towns are being progressively encroached upon by the sea, endangering homes, infrastructure, and livelihoods.

2. Biodiversity Hotspot: The Ecuadorian coast is a biodiversity hotspot, with mangroves, estuaries, and coral reefs providing critical habitats for marine life. Erosion threatens these ecosystems, leading to the loss of invaluable biodiversity. This affects all the food supply for the big fish, birds and all things that live in the mangroves ,

3. Tourism and Economy: Ecuador's coastal regions contribute significantly to the country's tourism and fishing industries. Coastal erosion jeopardizes these sectors, leading to economic losses and unemployment.

Global Warming's Role in Coastal Erosion

Global warming is a major driving force behind the escalating severity of coastal erosion in Ecuador. Here's how it exacerbates the issue:

1. Rising Sea Levels: One of the most direct consequences of global warming is the melting of polar ice caps, leading to rising sea levels. This rise, albeit gradual, significantly contributes to coastal erosion. Higher sea levels result in more frequent and severe inundation of coastal areas, causing erosion to occur at an accelerated rate.

2. Increased Storm Intensity: Global warming is linked to more intense and frequent storms. These storms bring strong winds, heavy rainfall, and elevated sea levels, all of which contribute to coastal erosion. The more violent the storm, the greater the erosion impact.

3. Weakening Natural Defenses: Mangroves, coral reefs, and dune systems are natural defenses against erosion. Global warming affects these ecosystems by causing coral bleaching, altering ocean currents, and increasing the frequency of destructive weather events, which, in turn, weakens these natural defenses.

4. Altered Sediment Dynamics: Climate change can disrupt sediment transport patterns along the coast. This results in sediment starvation in some areas and excess sediment deposition in others, leading to imbalances that accelerate erosion. The last El Nino buried us in mud for about four weeks. We couldn't get in unless we climbed down our sea walls and walked the beach. This presents a major problem. Most of the houses here have cisterns where we store our water. It comes in a huge truck. With ten feet of mud on our road it was impassable, we all drink large bottles of water that are delivered by moto. No moto service so no drinkable water. You had to be healthy and strong enough to climb down the rocks, walk the beach and bring some home. Also, this meant no trash pickup another problem for rats, rodents and basic carriers of disease in the extreme heat.

Addressing Coastal Erosion in Ecuador

To mitigate the severe effects of coastal erosion and its relationship with global warming in Ecuador, several actions are imperative:

1. **Climate Change Mitigation**: Ecuador, like many other nations, must prioritize efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to slow down the pace of global warming. and stop clear cutting trees in the Rain Forest

2. **Adaptive Coastal Management**: Implementing adaptive coastal management strategies is crucial. This includes beach nourishment, building coastal defenses, and restoring natural habitats like mangroves. These are essential to Marine Life as well as all that live in the Mangroves.

3. **Community Involvement**: Engaging coastal communities in planning and decision-making processes can help ensure the adoption of sustainable practices and policies that protect their livelihoods. Our town is usually prepared with sandbags for the restaurants and the local businesses and the bobcats and machinery is usually our early getting sand off of our Malecon and clearing our road. We here on the South end of the beach struggle with getting help from the Municipality. The general attitude has been they are responsible for themselves. My husband has been a warrior in this cause. Consulting the Perfecta, the Alcalde in Ecuador, and in general demanding an equal amount of attention for out section of the beach

4. **Data Collection and Research**: Continuous monitoring and research are essential to understanding the changing dynamics of coastal erosion and devising effective solutions

Coastal erosion in Ecuador is a multifaceted challenge with dire consequences for the country's environment, economy, and communities. While it is a natural process, global warming has amplified its severity. Addressing this issue requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses climate change mitigation, adaptive coastal management, community engagement, and ongoing research. The future of Ecuador's stunning coastline depends on urgent and concerted efforts to protect it from the relentless forces of coastal erosion exacerbated by global warming. Ecuador, you will be forced to become a fast learner.


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