Coastal land use in the Maltese Islands : a description and appraisal
The area of the Maltese Islands is 316 km , and with an official coastal length of 180 km(^2) possess a high ratio of coastal length to area. The physical properties of the coast include a highly indented and largely accessible coastline having a low sloping profile, on the north, east and south-east littoral of Malta, presenting inlets, bays and deep harbours. Most of the recreational, industrial and coastal residential areas are situated around these areas together with a wide range of fortifications and military defensive structures built as part of the coastal defensive network of Malta over the last five centuries. In contrast, the other parts of the coast, including Gozo, consists of a largely inaccessible coastline made up of cliffs and boulder scree slopes with the few indentations marking sandy beaches. These areas have a high aesthetic quality. The rapid pace of development over last half-century has witnessed an economic transformation from an economy based on British military spending to one based on the development of coastal areas for marine-related services, tourism and residential and second-home development. Coastal land use conflicts have intensified with economic development and as people have sought to make a more use of the coast. This thesis is concerned with the evaluation of the coastal land use in the Maltese Islands. A historical overview of the coast is first presented, then a methodology for the mapping, surveying and estimation of the land uses along the coastal zone of the Maltese Islands is developed. This is based on a number of coastal field surveys that the author participated in between 1989 and 1998. The coastal zone was divided into sixteen segments and mapping is covered by sixteen land uses. The main results were that coastal development was centred in areas where a high natural coastal indentation and good physical accessibility of the coast were present, these, in turn, gave rise to land use conflict. In addition, civil engineering works and modifications such as rock-cutting, jetties, breakwaters and, in densely populated areas, promenades, intensified land use conflict. A notable difference in the type of coastal development processes to the north (tourism) and south (industry) of the Great Fault is evident. The thesis also includes the part played by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority in influencing coastal land uses, the main land use modifications proposed in the European Union accession talks and a brief assessment of the land use situation in selected localities in 2003.