Solutions for Coastal Erosion

Updated April 17, 2017

Coastal erosion refers to land receding along the coastline due to erosion of soil. As humans have built habitations along the coastline, flooding of these areas present a serious danger to human safety and to property. Coastal erosion results from storms, such as hurricanes, and human activities, such as building on the wetlands and destroying this ecosystem. Global warming has led to rising sea levels, which result in disappearing shorelines.

Seawalls, Revetments and Offshore Breakwaters

To prevent coastal erosion, some areas have built fortifications to separate the beaches from the effects of the seas. Seawalls and revetments, usually constructed of concrete, are built on the edge of shorelines to protect the land behind them. These structures are expensive and require extensive maintenance. Groins are rock, timber, concrete or metal pilings built perpendicular to the shore. They are designed to reduce sediment transport and widen beaches. Offshore breakwaters are offshore rock or concrete armour units designed to reduce the wave energy before it reaches the beach.

Beach Replenishment

Beach replenishment is a popular method for preventing coastline erosion and to help reclaim land along the shoreline. Offshore sand deposits are dredged and pumped onto eroding beaches, just off the shoreline. Beach replenishment is an expensive process, and its results are initially short-lived. Communities must continue to dump additional sand on the deposits because the sea washes it away. This solution helps maintain a recreational beach for economic purposes.

Protect and Renew Wetlands

Wetlands are areas of land inundated with water that lie along coastal areas. They are nature's protectors against coastal erosion. As hurricanes and other storms hit the coast, wetlands help diminish their power by slowing them down as they move inland. People have moved into the areas and caused much destruction. Agriculture, road, urban, and recreational developments are threats to the viability of many wetlands. These activities destroy the fragile ecosystem of these regions. Pollution also threatens wetlands. Both federal and state governments have passed laws protecting wetlands by prohibiting these destructive activities. However, these laws do not forbid all development or use of wetlands.

Building and Land Use Restrictions

Some localities have opted to prevent coastal erosion by removing human structures from endangered regions. They try to relocate existing structures from eroding shorelines and prevent people from building new ones. Some governments restrict rebuilding following major coastal storms, according to the text "An Introduction to Coastal Management." Governments use land acquisition programs to acquire and preserve erosion-prone areas. They use these areas for public purposes, such as recreation or open space.

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About the Author

Marci Sothern has written as a tutor in the academic field since 1999. She holds a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in political science from the University of Texas at Tyler. Her main areas of expertise include American history, comparative politics, international relations and political theory.