What is Coastal Ecosystem and Coastal Development?
The coastal ecosystem and coastal development can be defined as;
Estuaries, coastal waters, and lands make up the coastal ecosystem. Here the river and stream systems merge with the sea, and they are dissolved and mixed by the tides. It includes fresh, salty, brackish, mixed-saline-fresh, and fresh water. It includes the coastlines and adjacent lands. These integrated ecological units include water and landforms.
Lacustrine areas could also be classified as coastal ecosystems. These areas are where freshwater bodies play an eco-role similar to oceans.
For better climate change forecasts and management scenarios, it is important to do a comprehensive analysis of the coastal ecosystems. It includes biomes and enthrones and requires integrated modelling frameworks. This allows for a better evaluation of alternative strategies to combat climate change.
Coastal development refers to changes caused by human activities that alter the conditions and landscape of the coast. It includes the construction and establishment of structures on, near, or adjacent to the coast. This is alarming because these structures and the associated tasks can have negative effects on the environment and coastal areas. A coastal zone is an area where the ocean meets the land. It is also known as a zone where the interaction between the ocean and land changes continuously.
Coastal development can also be defined as the human-caused alteration or destruction of coastlines within sight of the coast. This includes the construction and modification of structures close to or on the coast to protect, communicate, or provide recreation. These structures can support social and economic activities, which may have positive or negative impacts on the coastal environment. Tourism is a big business. You can find beautiful beaches and resorts as well as a variety of activities. All of it is very attractive. People build when there is enough demand. They create more space on the beaches to build resorts, hotels, marinas, and golf courses. These are collectively called coastal development.
What is their importance?
The coastal ecosystems include salt marshes, wetlands, estuaries, mangroves, coral reefs, and mangroves. These habitats are productive and rich in biodiversity, which serves multiple purposes. These ecosystems have many ecological benefits. These ecosystems provide habitats for much aquatic flora and fauna and protection from flooding or hurricanes.
Fresh water can be filtered through mangrove forests or wetlands. This is done by filtering or degrading harmful substances and absorbing nutrients. These actions help to reduce the population of pathogens. These habitats provide many economic benefits. Coastal ecosystems provide food, building materials (sand and lime for concrete/cement), and pharmaceuticals (i.e. Marine organisms can also contain antibiotics and other medicinal substances. Services like fishing and tourism can also help boost local economies.
Increasing the development of coastal areas will lead to more tourists, which in turn leads to an increase in government revenues. These taxes are collected from employment, establishments, and goods. This will also result from an increase in foreign exchange revenue via imports and exports. It creates jobs in the area. More establishments mean more jobs for the community.
Impacts of Coastal Development on Coastal Ecosystem
Like any other situation, development along the coast can have both positive and adverse effects. We will now discuss the negative effects of coastal development on coastal ecosystems.
The impacts of coastal development, whether it is related to aquaculture, industry, or human settlements, can have a devastating impact on near-shore ecosystems. There are some possible outcomes of coastal development: drilling, coral mining, coastal erosion, pollution, and landfilling. You can also get indirect impacts like higher runoff sediments and pollution.
When people build homes, hotels, restaurants, and other buildings near the coastline, they increase the amount of sediment that flows into the sea. Sediment is a type of soil that contains rocks and sand. These materials get washed away by waves and currents and end up in the ocean. If there isn’t enough sediment to hold back the water, then the land becomes unstable and eventually erodes.
Noise from construction and operation may cause disturbances to wildlife (including birds and mammal species). Sediment loads that are too high during construction or operation can lead to the smothering and destruction of habitats and species.
Chronic sedimentation, sewage effluent, and industrial discharge are all effects of coastal development. Coral in water flow or runoff, which can lead to their death. The construction of tourist infrastructure does not stop the damage. The removal of reefs can cause coastal erosion, land retreat, and sedimentation.
Sedimentation can reduce light for coral growth and survival by smothering reefs and increasing turbidity in coastal waters. The presence of pollutants can increase coral mortality and disease, alter the coral structure, and hinder coral growth, or larval settlement. Long-term economic loss can result from coral mining for souvenirs and construction materials.
Coral Reefs and Ecosystem Damage
Coral reef damage is by far the most significant and well-documented problem with coastal development. Corals are invertebrates that produce calcium carbonate as a waste product. It’s this calcium carbonate that creates the skeleton of the reef. Because they are rich in biodiversity, so these are known as rainforests under the sea. Coral reefs can support a wide variety of life forms. Unfortunately, coral reefs are in grave danger.
Many human-caused events, including climate change or acidification of oceans, are threatening coral reefs. However, development is accelerating their decline and making it more difficult. To create more beaches, humans have destroyed turtle nesting areas and removed mangrove forests.
It is not just the construction of things that’s a problem, it’s also the tourists. Tourists can snorkel, dive, fish, and use boats. The reefs are directly damage when people touch or stand on them. These reefs are often damaged or the sediment is agitated in a way that makes it difficult for animals to survive. Modifications to islands can alter the saltiness or introduce new sediments. This also disturbs the balance and blocks out sunlight which is essential for the growth of coral reefs.
Steps for Coastal Erosion Solutions
As we discussed above coastal population growth will have major impacts on the marine ecosystem and the tourism industry. This will also impact the local community, economy, and health. The most prominent and biggest cause is coastal erosion. We should take some steps for erosion prevention.
One solution is to implement laws regarding the limitation of development in coastal areas, as well as environmental education and the establishment of environmental protection and a humanitarian group that will oversee each coastal area and its members. These solutions could be crucial in protecting the environment, economy, and community.