A Comparative Study of the Perception and Value of Beaches in Rural Ireland and Portugal: Implications for Coastal Zone Management


  • Michael MacLeod
  • Carlos Pereira da Silva
  • J.A.G. Cooper


Rural beach use, coastal zone management, perceptions, values


The ways in which beach users in rural areas of Portugal and Ireland perceive and value beaches in their countries was investigated by means of a questionnaire survey. The survey was carried out on beaches in Co. Donegal in Ireland, and Sines in Portugal in the summer of 1999 and 294 questionnaires were completed. The survey found that there were significant differences between Portuguese and Irish beach users. They differed in terms of the words associated with beaches, the ways in which beaches were valued, the aspects they liked and disliked about them, the problems associated with them, and the changes envisaged as likely to occur on beaches over the next decade. These results highlight the role that cultural and climatic setting play in influencing attitudes to beach use, and suggest that efforts should be made to maintain the diversity of beaches, providing a range of types from the amenity beach with a wide range of facilities to the less intensively used wilderness type. It is also argued that coastal zone management (CZM) in general would benefit from a greater scrutiny of the complex role values and perceptions play in influencing the CZM agenda.