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Med threat from concrete coasts At the crossroads of three continents, the Mediterranean is the largest semi-enclosed sea in the world. Over the ages, it has supported a vast array of wildlife. 5 About 150 million people also live within 20 km of the Mediterranean, and each summer that population almost doubles as swarms of sunseeking tourists pack the region’s hotel rooms. But what they come to enjoy is slowly being destroyed. 10 After more than a quarter of a century of international treaties and plans to save the sea, the battle is on to stop the last pieces of untouched coastline being covered in concrete. Within living memory, the sea has teemed with whales, dolphins, seals, turtles and fish. Large sea grass meadows support much of the chain of life. But the 15 boom in tourism over the past 50 years has placed this amazing biodiversity into threat. “One of the major threats is from mass tourism development along the coastline of the Mediterranean”, Paolo Guglielmi, of conservation organization WWF Mediterranean, told the BBC. 20 Concrete Jungle Today, the Mediterranean is the world’s most popular holiday destination. Escaping to the sun every year, 220 million holidaymakers –mostly from North 25 European cities – flock to its coasts. Every year, the numbers are growing. By 2020, they are projected to reach 350 million people – the population of the United States. Germany is the largest market followed by the United Kingdom, France and Italy. Buildings dominate the coastlines of France and Italy 30 and by 2020, it is expected that half of the 46,000 km of the Mediterranean coastline will be built upon – with much of the development linked to the tourist sector. 35 Resource Pressure The destruction continues unabated, despite decades of initiatives to save the Med, including a UN Action Plan. As well as continuing construction, the vast influx of holidaymakers every year puts a huge strain on resources and creates a 40 vast amount of waste on shore – far too much of which ends up in the sea.
Published on Jan 10, 2014