GS Paper - 1 (Geography)

Only about 16 per cent of the world’s coastal regions are in relatively good condition, according to our world-first research released on 7 February 2022, and many are so degraded they can't be restored to their original state. Places where the land meets the sea are crucial for our planet to function. The research conducted at the University of Queensland examined the level to which human activities have intruded coastlines throughout the world.

Our coasts are vital – and vulnerable

  1. Coastal regions encompass some of the most diverse and unique ecosystems on Earth.
  2. They include coral reefs, kelp forests, seagrass, tidal flats, mangroves, estuaries, salt marshes, wetlands and coastal wooded habitat.
  3. Many animal species, including those that migrate, rely on coastlines for breeding, foraging and protection.
  4. Coastal sites are also where rivers discharge, mangrove forests exchange nutrients with the ocean, and tidal flows are maintained.
  5. They support our fisheries, protect us from storms and, importantly, store carbon to help mitigate climate change.
  6. As much as 74 per cent of the world’s population lives within 50 kilometres of the coast, and humans put pressure on coastal environments in myriad ways.

These pressures include:

  1. Fishing at various intensities
  2. Land-based nutrient, organic chemical and light pollution
  3. Direct human impacts such as via recreation
  4. Ocean shipping
  5. Climate change (and associated ocean acidification, sea-level rise and increased sea surface temperatures).

On land, human pressures on our coastlines include:

  1. Built environments, such as coastal developments
  2. Disturbance
  3. Electricity and transport infrastructure
  4. Cropping and pasture lands, which clears ecosystems and causes chemical and nutrient runoff into waterways.