Beaches can be considered a multidimensional system where natural, cultural and socio-economic values interact. In Mozambique, where the presence of natural coastal processes, such as tropical cyclones, coastal dynamics and recently identified sea level rise, coupled with fast-paced coastal development and increasing anthropogenic pressures has led to coastal erosion being a dominant phenomenon at beaches (Palalane et al. 2015).
In order to manage this multidimensional space, the availability of data is necessary to understand the physical dynamics and social use of beaches. This is often an expensive and lengthy process, as long-term data is required to fully understand coastal changes. As an answer to this problem, CoastSnap Mozambique is a citizen science project which encourages tourists and the local population to use their smartphone to take pictures of the beach and to share these via social media or email. The images captured will enable the project team to build an accurate picture of the shoreline to analyse erosion, recovery cycles, storm impacts and beach uses.
This idea was first developed in Australia, and has since been implemented in other locations around the world. CoastSnap Mozambique will be the first application in Africa, and will focus on three different locations with coastal erosion problems: Ponta do Ouro (Maputo province), Tofo beach (Inhambane province) and Mozambique Island (Nampula province). These sites have differing characteristics, with importance for tourism, ecosystems and cultural heritage.
The project will produce cost-effective data for the long-term in a country with scarce data, through participation from a wide range of individuals and organisations. This will raise awareness of beach dynamics, natural assets and cultural heritage and will also inform coastal planning and management activities. The results will be presented through different means; online, in schools, for local officials and coastal managers, local media and NGOs etc.