Coast KZN

Coastal Access

Access Routes

In many countries minimum criteria for coastal access have been determined to ensure people's right of access. South Africa is no exception. The provision of coastal access is now a legal requirement in terms of the Integrated Coastal Management Act (No. 24 of 2008) and the Amendment Act (No. 36 of 2014) (Chapter 2, Section 18 in the consolidated Act). The Act stipulates that coastal municipalities are responsible for setting aside areas of land through which members of the public are able to access the coast and coastal public property.

Municipalities within KZN are currently faced with the challenge of determining where public access is lacking, where public access is of poor quality, where coastal access routes are too dense and/or detrimental to the environment, and where private routes are dominating.

View Coastal Access Routes 

The KZN coastline varies considerably from a pristine North Coast to a highly developed South Coast. Due to this variability, the type and density of coastal access routes along the coast differs and consequently requires different management strategies. A coastal access situational analysis for KZN was carried out by EDTEA in 2019 to serve as a geospatial tool for local municipalities to support decision making (EDTEA, 2019). The first phase of this study aimed to define a proposed access route density (PAD) index considering various social, recreational and environmental indicators. This PAD index was based on the number of access routes required to provide sufficient access to coastal public property and activities without exceeding the environment’s capacity to sustain such access. Seven indicators were used: (i) activities (swimming beaches, fishing hotspots, subsistence fisheries and subsistence harvesting); (ii) coastal vulnerability index; (iii) protected and marine protected areas; (iv) altered land; (v) built-up land; (vi) natural land; and (vii) disturbed land. This geospatial tool aims to provide KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) coastal municipalities with the knowledge to support decision-making through improved understanding of coastal access localities and quality.

The second phase considered the current status of public access to the coast. Current access routes were captured by means of heads-up digitizing based on 2013 and 2015 aerial photographs using ArcGIS software. The routes were captured at a scale of 1:1000 and classified according to their location and various characteristics. The final phase defined a quality index of current coastal access which facilitated in defining priority areas that require urgent management attention. Current route densities for both formal and informal public access routes as well as private access routes were calculated for each grid; compared to the PAD index; and indexed from which priority areas were identified for management: high, medium and low priority. For ease of management implementations, general recommendations were suggested for each priority class which could then be adapted for each grid upon an in-depth review of its current status and accessibility.

The Story Map below is an interactive geospatial tool providing information on KZN's coastal access routes. Use the panel on the left to scroll through, or to view the Story Map in a new window click on the blue button below.

Coastal Access Story Map

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Research Funders



Louis Celliers et al. for baseline work • Marinel Willemse • Bronwyn Goble • Rabia Wahab • Mariana Tomalin