Ecosystem service value losses from coastal erosion in Europe: historical trends and future projections
Coastal zones experience increased rates of coastal erosion, due to rising sea levels, increased storm surge frequencies, reduced sediment delivery and anthropogenic transformations. Yet, coastal zones host ecosystems that provide associated services which, therefore, may be lost due to coastal erosion. In this paper we assess to what extent past and future coastal erosion patterns lead to losses in land cover types and associated ecosystem service values. Hence, historical (based on CORINE land cover information) and projected (based on Dynamic and Interactive Vulnerability Assessment - DIVA - simulations) coastal erosion patterns are used in combination with a benefits transfer approach. DIVA projections are based on regionalized IPCC scenarios. Relative to the period 1975–2050, a case study is provided for selected European coastal country member states. For historical (1975–2006) coastal erosion trends, we observe territory losses in coastal agricultural, water body and forest & semi-natural areas – total coastal erosion equaling over 4,500 km2. Corresponding coastal ecosystem service values decrease from about €22.3 billion per year in 1975 to about €21.6 billion per year in 2006. For future (2006–2050) coastal erosion projections, total territory losses equal between ~3,700 km2 and ~5,800 km2 – coastal wetland areas being affected most severely. Corresponding coastal ecosystem service values decrease to between €20.1 and €19.4 billion per year by 2050. Hence, we argue that the response strategy of EU member states to deal with coastal erosion and climate change impacts should be based on the economic as well as the ecological importance of their coastal zones.