CULLERA (Valencia Province) will recover the historic sand dunes that dotted its shores more than 60 years ago in a bid to prevent coastal erosion.

Experts working for the national Ministry of Ecological Transition studied the area and concluded that the shoreline bordering the town’s southern beaches, more specifically Marenyet and Estany, is in a ‘disgraceful state’.

Comparing aerial photographs taken now and back in 1957 shows that the sea has devoured a significant portion of coastline – a problem largely attributed to the disappearance of the dunes.

Cullera's Estany beach
Cullera’s Estany beach

The discovery has prompted the ministry to announce plans to regenerate the shoreline and recover the dunes by means of large shipments of sediments to be extracted from an underwater sand bank located opposite the lighthouse.

In addition, the plans – which have already been given the green light by an environmental impact study – include the construction of breakwaters in the area to mitigate the effect of the waves.

The work by the central executive also hopes to reverse damage caused by previous projects that were supposedly aimed at protecting the area, but which ended up having the opposite effect.

This includes existing breakwaters leading out from the mouth of the Xuquer river into the sea, which pose an impenetrable barrier for sediments to pass through to the affected spot.    

Experts warn that most of the work carried out on the coastline between Valencia and Denia (Alicante) over the last decades has been ‘uneven and unplanned’, often simply moving the problem further south instead of solving it.

Unchecked development is also to blame, says the ministry, as buildings and seafront promenades were built without respecting the vital sand dune networks.

In all, this has led to a drastic reduction in the width of the Estany and Marenyet beaches – even disappearing at some points.

The regeneration project announced this week will include eliminating breakwaters and jetties that are causing more harm than good, reusing the materials to build more effective infrastructure, maintaining the existing dune networks that help protect seafront properties while creating new ones, and encouraging the recovery of endemic species of flora while eliminating invasive ones. 

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