Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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Case Study 16

Coastal Zone Management for Cyprus: Trans-national Technology Transfer and Diffusion
Xenia I Loizidou
Ministry of Communications and Works

Keywords:Cyprus, The Netherlands, shoreline management plans, technologies to combat erosion

In 1993 the Government of Cyprus and Delft Hydraulics jointly started the Study "Coastal Zone Management for Cyprus" under the framework of the European Union programme MEDSPA (MEDiterranean Strategy and Plan Action). The contract involved transfer of technology and know-how on shoreline management and erosion control technologies from the Dutch Consultants to the staff of the Coastal Unit of the Public Works Department of Cyprus.
The major objectives were:

  • capacity building and development of local expertise within the Coastal Unit through transfer of technology and on-the-job training
  • development of proper methods to protect the coastline and improve the quality of the beach where necessary, without any serious consequences to the environment

The outcome of the study formed the basis for further work on Shoreline Management in Cyprus, which is currently being conducted by the Coastal Unit.


Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean. The Coastal zone is of vital economic importance for the island and is under increasing pressure mainly due to tourism development. During the late 1970s and 1980s, erosion of the coastline and shortage of fine sandy beaches led to a sectoral approach to managing the receding coastlines. This included construction of coastal defence structures without considering any long-term effects. This approach resulted in a series of problems such as erosion of neighbouring areas, water quality problems, disruption of the ecological balance in the areas with coastal structures, etc. In light of these problems and considering the coasts as a natural resource, the Government of Cyprus recognised an immediate need for an integrated approach for managing the coastal zone.

The Study was co-financed by the Government of Cyprus (50% of the funding) and the European Union through the MEDSPA programme. The free coastline of Cyprus was divided into 12 littoral cells. A monitoring system was set up in order to generate scientific data concerning morphology and dynamics of the coastal zone. Numerical models were used to analyse and process the data in order to identify and describe the natural system components.

The technical committee appointed to oversee the operations included scientists from eight governmental departments. The committee also sought active participation of the local authorities and private sector though a series of workshops and meetings. The study resulted in the preparation of Shoreline Management plans for three selected coastal areas. Furthermore, environmental impact studies were carried out for the proposed coastal structures.

The technologies proposed by the Study to combat erosion included: 1) retreat management in areas with no coastal development and 2) beach nourishment supported by the construction of low-crested offshore breakwaters, and demolition of the existing vertical groynes in highly developed coastal areas. All stakeholders accepted the proposals. However, the implementation process was constrained by specific barriers. For instance, budget allocation took three years of negotiations with the involvement of the Council of Ministers. The recent decision (in 1998) on this matter defines that coastal protection work is going to be co-financed by the Government and the local authorities. However, since some local authorities have financial problems with their contribution, the implementation of the study is still partly pending.

The task pertaining to defining specific set-back lines for each coastal area is still pending due to lack of funding for the study and limited number of scientific personnel.

Lack of borrow material to proceed with beach nourishment. The seabed from the coastline up to 20 m depth is protected by the Barcelona Convention (protection of Posedonia Meadows), thus making dredging a difficult option. Detailed investigation around the coasts of Cyprus revealed that the entire seabed in waters deeper than 15 m consists of extremely fine sediment, which is unsuitable for beach nourishment. The investigation of land borrow pits was also unsuccessful. The option of importing sediment from neighbouring countries was rejected due to the extremely high costs and other ecological considerations. Based on the above, it was decided that beach nourishment was not feasible as a solution for general application in Cyprus. A small-scale pilot project has monitored the coastal area the last three years and the results support this decision (Famagusta Nautical Club, Limassol). The stakeholders accepted this proposal and new plans for combating erosion are now under implementation.

Lessons Learned

It is very important to have Shoreline Management plans for coastal areas under rapid development. Over the last three years, these plans helped Cyprus to control coastal development. However, decisions on implementing appropriate technological solutions can take time. Knowledge of local conditions proved important. Thus, setting up an efficient monitoring system is necessary. This case study also illustrates the importance of using local expertise for decisions on appropriate solutions. The approach adopted in this case involved all stakeholders in the process of decision making which proved to be very efficient and flexible.


Delft Hydraulics, Coastal Zone Management for Cyprus. Reports I, II, III, 1993, 1994, 1996, The Netherlands.
Coastal Unit, Internal Reports 1993-1996. Public Works Department, Ministry of Communication and Works, Cyprus.

Xenia I. Loizidou
Executive Coastal Engineer
Coastal Unit, Public Works Department,
Ministry of Communication and Works, Cyprus,
Tel +357 2 806622, Fax +357 2 498934;

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