Erosion of Abkhazia's Coastline
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Pre-war Abkhazia, considered the Soviet Union’s ‘Red Riviera, accounted for most of the Black Sea's most desired coastline. Today, the waterfront of Sukhumi and Gagra is littered with sunken piers and crumbled rubble from buildings destroyed in the1992-93 war. Without defensives, such a lack of coastal defensive measures is leading to the enhanced destabilisation process of the coast. Recently, the extraction of inert materials such as rock and sand from the river-beds in Abkhazia was exported to the Russian Federation for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games. Two million tonnes of gravel have reportedly been taken from Abkhazia to Sochi in the past few years, though specialists believe that ten times as much could have been supplied without a negative impact on the environment. Such industrial activities have put pressure on the future of marine and coastal ecosystems of the Black Sea. 




Abkhazian beaches went through an intensive restoration and rehabilitation processes during 1982-1990.
Yet today, no coastal defensive measures have been carried out since the 1990s.
Nuns watch as a charter boat takes Russian tourists from the pier of Gagra.
Overcrowding of the beaches is common in the summertime by Russian tourists.
In 1989, Gagra had a population of 26,636. The war erupted between 1992 and 1993, leaving the resort city of Gagra as a war-torn paradise in ruins.
Because of the rash installation of engineering structures in the coastal area (breakwaters, jetties, piers) beaches are disappearing.
Abkhazia is still distinguished by its unique ecology of subtropical climate, however its coastal line with beautiful beaches, is at risk of environmental degradation.
The collapse of fish stocks has altered the Black Sea's food chain. The resulting adjustment among different levels of the food chain, helpes explain why species of invasive jellyfish have bloomed.
Pollution rises from the port of Sukhumi. Abkhazia's beaches are formed by sediment gravel and sand from its rivers. Parts of the coastal zone of Gagra, Sukhumi and Promoskoye are under the threat of erosion.
Children in Sukhumi jump off of dilapidated piers, destroyed during the war.
The water the children jump into is littered with plastic bottles.
Litter is found ubiquitously along the coastline, in most abandoned buildings and along the beach.
Tangible results may only be achieved through joint efforts of government and the public to improve the environment for future generations.  
Environmental Degradation of the Abkhazian Coastline


For the economies of these war torn regions to recover, considerations and policies that address climate degradation and waste management must be put into effect. Militarization leads to ecological damage, which then leads to economic damage. According to the UN, environmental priorities in Abkhazia that are in need of action include: surface water resources and quality (such as the run-off of soil and organic matter during floods, furthermore leaking pipes and unstable pumping); biodiversity (resulting from the conflict, some former cultural landscapes are now abandoned); and hazardous substances (coal mining, nuclear accidents). Action on these points may offer a window of opportunity for transboundary co-operation.


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