Environmental Management

, Volume 45, Issue 5, pp 998–1013 | Cite as

Proposal for an Integral Quality Index for Urban and Urbanized Beaches

  • Eduard Ariza
  • Jose A. Jimenez
  • Rafael Sarda
  • Miriam Villares
  • Josep Pinto
  • Rosa Fraguell
  • Elisabet Roca
  • Carolina Marti
  • Herminia Valdemoro
  • Ramon Ballester
  • Modest Fluvia


A composite index, based on function analysis and including thirteen sub-indices, was developed to assess the overall quality of urban and urbanized beaches in the Mediterranean area. The aggregation of components and sub-indices was based on two questionnaires completed by beach users and experts. Applying the new Beach Quality Index (BQI) demonstrated that the quality of beaches could be improved. In general, the strongest aspects of the beaches assessed were those related to short-term user demand, and the weakest were those related to the consequences of human pressure on the area, in particular, erosion problems. The composite index is intended to be used together with Environmental Management Beach Systems (EMBs) as a hierarchical management scorecard and in monitoring programs. This new tool could also make planning more proactive by synthesizing the state of the most important beach processes.


Beach management Integral quality Indicators Function analysis Multi-criteria analysis 



This study was carried out within the framework of the MeVaPlaya and DEFCON projects, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science under contracts REN2003-09029-C03-MAR and CGL2006-13953-C04 respectively. First author was supported by a pre-doctoral I3P fellowship from the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) and, second author would like to thank the Autonomous Government of Catalonia for its support through the University Research Promotion Award for Young Researchers. The authors wish to thank experts and users for answering the expert and user questionnaires and the staff of the Catalan Water Agency (ACA) for providing water quality and environmental quality data. The assistance received from safety officials, rescue services and beach management in the municipalities of Malgrat, Blanes, Lloret de Mar and Tossa de Mar was very important to the development of this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eduard Ariza
    • 1
  • Jose A. Jimenez
    • 2
  • Rafael Sarda
    • 1
  • Miriam Villares
    • 3
  • Josep Pinto
    • 4
  • Rosa Fraguell
    • 4
  • Elisabet Roca
    • 3
  • Carolina Marti
    • 4
  • Herminia Valdemoro
    • 2
  • Ramon Ballester
    • 5
  • Modest Fluvia
    • 5
  1. 1.Centre d’Estudis Avançats de BlanesBlanesSpain
  2. 2.Laboratori d’Enginyeria MaritimaUniversitat Politecnica de CatalunyaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Laboratori d’Estudis Socials de l’Enginyeria CivilUniversitat Politecnica de CatalunyaBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Laboratori d’Anàlisi i Gestió del PaisatgeUniversitat de GironaGironaSpain
  5. 5.Departament d’EconomiaUniversitat de GironaBarcelonaSpain

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