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Coastal environment


Several very strong pressures jeopardise the conservation of coastal environment on the Reunion island:

- An extremely small lagoon (25 km long and a hundred metres wide), which is very built-up because of tourism, inshore fishing and water sport activities;

- Water treatment plants currently undersized due to housing densification on the coast and at mid-slope;

- The project of diversion of water courses from the western coast to the eastern one, which should increase agricultural activity.

Housing, agriculture and livestock farming combine to turn the lagoon into an area at risk that the reserve status given to the coral reef environment will not be enough to protect. What matters is therefore to understand and follow undergoing processes in terms of urban development, land cover and pollution, so as to break down negative consequences on the coast which is now at the heart of the island economy (500,000 tourists in 2000, most of them staying by the lagoon).

Activities currently carried out by scientific teams

The SEAS (Surveillance de l’Environnement Assistée par Satellites - Satellite Aided Environment Monitoring) station at Saint-Denis de la Réunion is integrated in the University of Reunion and hosts a NOAA HRPT receiving station, which is considered as the reference station of the IRD SEASnet network.

Specialised in the fields of fishing and oceanography, the SEAS station works on applications and innovations in satellite aided environmental monitoring in intertropical areas. These activities are planned in the frame of the State-Region Programme Contract.

The station also contributes to coastal area integrated management through the AGIL project (Aide à la Gestion Intégrée des Littoraux - Support to integrated management of coasts), funded by the Earth and Space Network, more particularly on the following topics:

- Changes in coastal areas land use, through to a better definition of surface conditions, the delineation and characterisation of coastal areas management units;

- The watersheds development dynamics, thanks to the characterisation of land cover, but also to the identification of water fluxes and resource networks (continental hydrology) and the simulation of development scenarios;

- Water quality, pollution sources and their impact, by carrying out a monitoring of wastewater indicators (water colour) and marine hydrology studies.

Relevance of a reference remote sensing database

Besides NOAA-AVHRR and SEASTAR/SeaWiFS images collected in the frame of the SEASnet network, using the Kalideos Isle-Réunion database makes it possible to take advantage of:

- Spot 5 very high resolution optical data to study land cover in coastal area, more particularly to appraise urban pressure;

- A higher acquisition frequency to determine pollution sources and analyse their impact;

- Hyperspectral data to study the lagoon sanitary conditions in detail, using for instance Hyperion data as a supplement to the airborne campaign carried out by the CASI sensor.

Contact point

The scientific coordination of this activity is ensured by Michel PETIT from the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD).