Analysis of Blue Flag Beaches Compared with Natural Beaches in the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands, Spain

  • Francesc Xavier Roig-MunarEmail author
  • Pablo Fraile-Jurado
  • Carolina Peña-Alonso
Part of the Coastal Research Library book series (COASTALRL, volume 24)


There has been a rise in the implementation of environmental management systems in several coastal tourist areas in the last decades. It has been carried out by the awareness of society about the importance of the environment.

New management concepts such as Blue Flags have been developed since the end of twentieth century in order to justify certain environmental quality standards for urban or semi-urban beaches. Nevertheless, the environmental quality had already been reduced by the application of management measures which did not include geomorphological nor geo-environmental criteria in many cases. Since the creation of Blue Flags many Spanish coastal municipalities have received this label. Most of these beaches are located in cities.

The hypothesis of this research is that most of the beaches awarded with Blue Flags (2007–2015) are located in urban or semi-urban environments without any relevant geo-environmental or scenic values. This fact might drive to conceptual misunderstandings not only for beach users but also for an appropriate environmental management, since beach management is theoretically practiced as natural system management, facing the reality that values the beach as service.

81 beaches were analyzed in Canary and Balearic Islands by measuring 15 variables focused on their conservation status and their artificiality. A comparison between Blue Flag beaches and non-Blue Flag beaches was performed. The obtained results showed that most of Blue Flag awarded beaches have lower environmental values than the others, evidencing that there are no geological or environmental reasons to consider that Blue Flag beaches achieve high environmental quality standards.



The third author was supported by a Postdoctoral fellow from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesc Xavier Roig-Munar
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pablo Fraile-Jurado
    • 2
  • Carolina Peña-Alonso
    • 3
  1. 1.QUATRE Consultoria AmbientalMigjorn GranMenorcaSpain
  2. 2.Grupo de Investigación de Geografía Física y Análisis geográfico regionalFacultad de Geografía e HistoriaUniversidad de SevillaSpain
  3. 3.Grupo de Investigación de Geografía Física y Medio Ambiente, Instituto de Oceanografía y Cambio Global, IOCAGUniversidad de Las Palmas de Gran CanariaULPGCSpain

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