Sustainable Shores: RSPB Release Major Review of Coastal Habitats

The RSPB has just released a major review of the state of the UK’s coastal habitats called Sustainable Shores    It sets out why our coastal habitats are so important to people and wildlife; what has been lost already; what may be lost in the future due to sea level rise and what we can do about it.


Below is a summary of the review by Communications and Management for Sustainability.

Without action to adapt our coastline, the study estimates we stand to lose at least 60ha of internationally important coastal habitat each year across the UK just due to sea level rise.

Fortunately, the solutions are in our hands. Through more than 70 projects in the UK in the last 25 years we have developed experience of creating coastal habitat. More than 2,500ha has been created through techniques such as managed realignment, with the RSPB involved in more than a third.


Based on the analysis and mapping undertaken as part of the Sustainable Shores project there are more than enough places around the coast where we can replace what has been lost and will be lost in the future. So we know what we need to do, where to do it, why and how. But we still haven’t got close to replacing even 25% of the UK area of coastal habitat that has been lost since 1945, and in some places we are struggling to keep up with what continues to be lost each year.


To address this shortfall the report calls for:

  • Protection of the Nature Directives post-Brexit. They have been crucial in slowing the rate of loss due to coastal development and ensuring governments address the loss of protected coastal habitat to coastal squeeze.
  • Clear milestones, responsibilities and funding for climate change adaptation on the coast through proper implementation of Shoreline Management Plan policies and National Adaptation Programmes.
  • New National Habitat Creation Programmes in Scotland and Northern Ireland to address the impacts of coastal change, including the loss of protected habitat.
  • More action from UK governments and environmental regulators on improving coastal habitat quality, including through encouraging measures such as the beneficial use of dredged material.
  • Further exploration by multi-sector partnerships of innovative ways that coastal adaptation can be delivered and financed.


For further information on the RSPB Sustainable Shores project, please contact Nathan Richardson:


External Sources

RSPB Review: Sustainable Shores