How many coastal regions remain unchanged?


Millions of people around the world depend on coastal regions and its ecosystem services to feed themselves and even protect themselves from storms. However, the strong human pressure exerted on these areas, in addition to the effects of climate change, causes a degradation that increases.

In fact, only 15.5% of the coasts – located in Canada, Russia, Greenland, Chile, Australia, USA, Svalbard, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Falkland Islands, Solomon Islands and Brazil – actually remain. intact. Thus concludes a study with data from 2013 and published in the journal Conservation Biology.

“Human pressure on coastal regions has likely increased since then, meaning our results are likely an underestimate of current levels of integrity of these areas”Brooke Williams, lead author of the book and researcher at University of Queensland, in Australia.

coastal regions

Coastal areas that contain herbaria Yes Coral reefs they exhibit the highest levels of human pressure, especially in temperate and tropical zones, compared to other coastal ecosystems. “These are also the places where people depend on coastal ecosystem services to survive”, underlines the researcher. This makes its inhabitants “extremely vulnerable”.

According to the team, the investigation is a “hard reminder” that these areas harbor high levels of biodiversity, urgent action is therefore needed to conserve them and restore those degraded by heavy human occupation. “Especially to help mitigate climate change », Williams adds.

The scientists reached these conclusions by analyzing two sets of data on the human footprint (terrestrial human pressure) and the cumulative human pressure index (marine human pressure) and thus test the effects of people on the entire surface of the Earth.

“Our analysis has shown us that coastal ecosystems are under pressure from terrestrial and marine influences. Understanding why coastal ecosystems are under pressure can help us design and apply more specific management strategies.”comment Amelie Wengerfrom the University of Queensland and co-author of the study.

A call to action to get them back

Through their research, experts are calling on governments to keep proactive way coastal regions that remain unchanged, while those most affected are restored.

“Coastal areas are where most people live and they need to function. Our results tell a scary story, as most of them are badly degraded and many are not salvageable. Now is the time to proactively plan and save Earth’s remaining intact coastlines.”Retrieve James Watsonfrom the same Australian university and co-author of the study.

In addition to the efforts of conservationscientists point out that protecting and restoring the ecological integrity of coasts is key to achieving global sustainability goals, such as tackling climate change, and complying with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“Therefore, the time has come to assess the intensity of human pressure on coastal regions and to contextualize this assessment within the framework of global sustainability goals for prioritize actions that nations can undertake to conserve, sustainably manage and restore coastal regions for the benefit of biodiversity and the people who depend on it for their survival”concludes SINC Brooke Williams.

Character font: SINC Agency

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