The Effects of Coastal Erosion

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The Effects of Coastal Erosion
Coastal erosion removes land on the coast which can affect nearby buildings and industries. (Ryan McVay/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

The effects of coastal erosion can be quite dramatic depending on the scale of the land loss. Coastal erosion refers to any area along the coastline where wind and water are removing land. Erosion is the primary force that shapes coastlines, and in conjunction with a rising sea level and occasional flooding, it can dramatically change the appearance of coastal areas. Many organisations and governments are taking steps to minimise the damage of coastal erosion.

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Wildlife

The coastline is an important habitat for many types of wildlife. The various habitats found on coastlines include sand dunes, sandy beaches, salt marshes and mud flats. These areas are rich in biodiversity, and while many coastal areas are protected from construction or destruction, this does not protect the habitats from coastal erosion. The loss of these habitats can cause some animal populations to go into decline, affecting other species that depend on these areas as food sources.

Property

Many homes and buildings are constructed on coastal regions, as beachfront homes are often in high demand and coastal towns are often popular resort areas. Some homes at the water's edge risk of being submerged by the sea or falling over in a landslide. Homes in neighbourhoods in coastal areas risk flooding if beach erosion isn't controlled. Even though flooding happens infrequently it can produce serious property damage.

Economic Value

Land usage near coastal contains industrial facilities, agricultural uses and tourist facilities. This means that the economic value of land near coastal areas is quite high. As coastal erosion occurs the amount of land that can be used for these industries decreases, which in turn decreases the economic value of the land. Depending on the scale of the loss, this can cause prices to increase across the country, specifically for the agricultural industry.

Erosion Prevention Problems

Engineering solutions to coastal erosion, such as building seawalls and jetties, can prevent some coastal erosion. But these solutions may also disrupt ocean currents near the coast and cause more erosion of neighbouring beaches. Seawater stopped by an obstacle like a jetty will hit land nearby with even more force, producing sand loss and new erosion problems.

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