The prevailing geophysical conditions were characterised at each study site, to describe trends and forecast changes in environmental factors resulting from prospective development. Existing cartography and aerial photographs were analysed and landscape features assessed. When possible, past evolution was also reconstructed from the historic rests of human occupation. Much of the work at the sites consisted of land-cover surveys which laid emphasis on aspects of geomorphology, and terrestrial habitat-types and land-uses. The field investigations were thus carried out to highlight the geophysical elements and the ecological communities present, together with existing potential impacts and risks resulting from land-use conflicts and anthropogenic activities. For each site, if geomorphological systems and topographic alteration are to be identified and change anticipated, it was considered critical to obtain measurements of current landforms and an assessment of the causes leading to degradation, particularly, of vegetation.
Therefore, detailed profiles were made and field measurements taken. When accurate larger scale maps are available, some of these profiles will allow identification of the main landscape features such as storm wave swash bars. Changes in landscape features can then be monitored by re-profiling. Sedimentological surveys of the beach and the sea bottom were conducted for a reconstruction of shoreline dynamics with relation to the littoral environment and the human induced changes both landwards and seawards. Thematic maps (soil, vegetation, land use) were produced for each study site, which have been used within the project to locate management measures at the sites. The maps will be useful in the future to monitor changes deriving from management measures.
An issue in this work package was the definition of the study areas. The influences from both the inland and sea surrounding areas had to be taken into account, which were larger than the areas to be managed.