Threats to coastline biodiversity
“Biodiversity” refers to the natural diversity of living organisms. The concept of biodiversity brings together several ways of organizing what is living, going from the “gene” for genetic biodiversity, to “species” for species diversity to “ecosystems” for ecological diversity. Today, coastline biodiversity merits all our attention because we know too little about it, and the agencies that are studying, protecting, and managing the coastline, lack data about its flora and fauna.
A number of threats
Close to two thirds of the world’s population is concentrated in coastal zones. In mainland France, 6 million people are considered to live in the coastal band. Its population density is also higher than the national average. In fact, the pressures on this environment, between the land and the sea, are considerable, and are growing year on year. The main pressures and threats include:
- Artificialization of the coastline. Often referred to as coastal “development” a range of coastal development projects, have had a major impact on coastline ecosystems over the course of the last decades, and have caused the disappearance of habitats that are essential to the life of many species.
- Pollution that originates on land is also one of the great threats weighing on coastline life. Pollution from an excess of phosphates or nitrates can also be identified due to its impact on the episodes of green algae that cover entire beaches in Brittany each year.
- Hydrocarbon pollution, including petrol disasters or unwanted offshore ballast tanks, remains a key threat, particularly in the Mediterranean, through which 30% of the world’s petrol travels each year.
- Pollution by “solid waste”, which is floating or deposited on the seabed: millions of plastic bags, beverage cans, cigarette stubs etc. are dumped in the oceans every day – the final and discreet receptacle of the waste of human activity. The coastline is deeply affected by this waste but also by the measures taken to retrieve it (mechanical collection).
- [Although] less obvious, potentially invasive species can also represent one of the threats to the stability of coastline and marine life: they can also be a sign of climate change.
- The impacts of climate change, in addition to those mentioned above, can take many forms, changing the conditions of environments, but also increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather conditions, causing, among other things, increased erosion of the coastline in places, and a rise in sea level.