Coast KZN

02 Sep 2017

Dune erosion worsens with each passing ocean storm surge

Dave Savides (Zululand Observer) Picture: Debris from the long-abandoned section at the Imvubu Lodge perimetre fence finally took the plunge last week. City of uMhlathuze Chief Sport and Recreation Officer Shakier Hiraman and Beach Superintendent Cyril Mkize surveyed the scene on Wednesday Photo: Dave Savides

Storm surges eat more coastline

RECENT storm surges waves that powered into the fragile Zululand coastline again did considerable damage to the vulnerable dune barrier north of Alkantstrand.

Beaches are once more strewn with debris, including huge chunks of cliff face, casuarinas and palm trees.

The combination of high swells and tides together with differing wave directions contributed to the erosion.

Above this, with the current drought there has been less sand transported by rivers to supply the beaches.

Among the worst affected areas is the section below the Caravan Park and Imvubu Lodge, where an abandoned building finally met its fate after being cordoned off for months.

Neither facility had any of its amenities affected and it is ‘business as usual’ at both.

On the positive side, the geobag defensive wall at Alkantstrand once again showed its value and strength, easily coping with the wave and wind forces and preventing damage to beach infrastructure.

Dredging over the past months, with sand spoil spread across the area, also added positively to the ability of the beach to withstand nature’s onslaught.


In 2013, the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs published a Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI) fact sheet.

Their study, encompassing the uMhlathuze, uMlalazi and uMfolozi municipalities, indicated that while most of the beaches are only at moderate risk from erosion, climate change and sea-level rise, the immediate section from Alkantstrand northwards is in serious danger.

Huge tidal surges during storms over the past years have seen mass disintegration and narrowing of the dune defence that protects the coastline.

According to the CVI, 42% of the 101km of the uThungulu (King Cetshwayo) coastline is at low risk, 53% at moderate risk and 4% at high risk.

• Environmental scientist Dr Alan Smith, research associate at UKZN, is keen to get old photographs showing what the coastline looked like in past years.

‘When beach driving was still permitted, many people would have taken photos of outings to the sea.

‘There must have been plenty taken at Alkantstrand, Five Mile, Dawson’s and other spots along the coast,’ says Alan.

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