Overview of resilience of coasts


The resilience of the coast varies markedly between areas and habitats. Some parts (e.g. exposed beaches and rocky shores) are naturally highly energetic and dynamic, and are therefore more accustomed to environmental fluctuations than low-energy habitats (e.g. coastal lakes). Pollutants introduced to high-energy coasts will be diluted more efficiently than those introduced to low-energy coasts, making high-energy coasts more resilient to such stresses. This principle is used in the design and placement of ocean outfalls, such as for desalination and sewage effluent.

Populated areas of coast experience numerous cumulative and interacting human pressures, and resilience of coastal areas to any given pressure depends on how much an area is stressed by other pressures. For example, resilience to climate change may be improved by minimising local and regional pressures, such as land use in catchments.

Recovery of degraded coastal systems can be assisted by restoration, and this, in turn, improves resilience. Recent examples of this in the coastal zone are projects to restore shellfish, saltmarsh, seagrass and seaweed habitats. Although these all have long-term goals, their early results are promising.

Jackson WJ, Argent RM, Bax NJ, Bui E, Clark GF, Coleman S, Cresswell ID, Emmerson KM, Evans K, Hibberd MF, Johnston EL, Keywood MD, Klekociuk A, Mackay R, Metcalfe D, Murphy H, Rankin A, Smith DC, Wienecke B (2016). Overview: Overview of resilience of coasts. In: Australia state of the environment 2016, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/theme/overview/coasts/topic/overview-resilience-coasts, DOI 10.4226/94/58b65510c633b