A global model to forecast coastal hardening and mitigate associated socioecological risks

Oliver Floerl*, Javier Atalah, Ana B. Bugnot, Mitchell Chandler, Katherine A. Dafforn, Lisa Floerl, Anastasija Zaiko, Robert Major

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Around the world, coastal urbanization continues to replace natural marine habitats with engineered structures, resulting in wholesale changes to shallow-water ecosystems and associated socioecological impacts. This process is expected to continue over the coming decades. The development of meaningful strategies to minimize future impacts requires an understanding of the rate at which ‘coastal hardening’ will take place regionally. Here we show that coastal infrastructure has replaced more than half (52.9 ± 4.9%) of the coastline associated with 30 global urban centres. The regional extent of coastal hardening is explained by eight predictor variables associated with shipping, boating, regional economies, populations and coastline length. Using a case study approach, we forecasted a 50–76% expansion of coastal infrastructure over a 25-year period. Our model can aid decision-makers to anticipate increases in coastal hardening, supporting identification and management of future threats to coastal ecosystems alongside social, economic and cultural objectives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1060-1067
Number of pages11
JournalNature Sustainability
Issue number12
Early online date21 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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