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Shoreline Armoring, Risk Management, and Coastal Resilience Under Rising Seas

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The land-sea interface is a complex social-ecological system characterized by natural ecological processes and human-induced changes. Holistic management of the shoreline is a critical element of an ecosystem-based approach to the land-sea interface in coastal zone management (CZM) programs. Anthropogenic alteration of shoreline environments has resulted in significant loss of sandy beach ecosystems and eroded the resilience of these systems to disturbance. We tested the efficacy of CZM programs in managing the land-sea interface under current and future challenges by comparing alternative approaches to shoreline management in two U.S. states (Hawai'i and North Carolina). Our results show that explicit prohibition of shoreline armoring has been more effective in conserving dynamic coastal environments and communities by passing the risk associated with coastal development from the public trust to private landowners. Over the long-term, robust anti-armoring legislation will de-incentivize risky coastal development projects while preserving coastal environments and the ecological services they provide to society. Policy prescriptions for effective shoreline management and increased coastal resilience under persistent coastal erosion and future sea-level rise are proposed.
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Keywords: armoring; coastal zone management; erosion; natural hazard; resilience; shoreline; social-ecological systems

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, National Science Foundation Integrated Graduate Education, Research & Training (IGERT) Program in Ecology, Conservation & Pathogen Biology, Honolulu, Hawai'i, USA 2: Department of Urban & Regional Planning, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawai'i, USA

Publication date: 2010-11-01

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