Chapter 3 - Coastal Population and Land Use Changes in Europe: Challenges for a Sustainable Future

Alejandro Iglesias-Campos, Andrus Meiner, Kieran Bowen, Joseph Onwona Ansong

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Increasing evidence points to the fact that there has been significant environmental degradation along European coastal areas. Coastal ecosystems, which include coastal lands, areas of transitional waters, and near-shore marine areas, are under substantial environmental stress and are highly threatened.Although European coastal areas have a large concentration of habitats and serve as an important source of biological diversity, residents of coastal regions exert great pressure near the coastline through the development of economic activities, making them the leading force behind coastal changes, which have intensified over the past decade. This situation has created conflicts on land use with serious consequences for the coastal environment and the associated natural resources. This impact is underscored by the fact that 41% of the total population within the 26 European coastal countries lives by the sea, which represents more than 200 million inhabitants within the 378 coastal regions distributed among the Mediterranean Sea, North-East Atlantic, Baltic Sea, and Black Sea.The intensification of coastal changes has also created imbalances, in some cases with serious consequences due to the destruction of habitats, loss of biodiversity, pollution of coastal waters and estuaries, landscape quality degradation, and alteration of the quantity and quality of water resources. These imbalances have socioeconomic impacts and also pose a risk to many European citizens by threatening their livelihood, health, or general well-being.Coastal areas are also exposed to severe erosion and climatic changes that, in many cases, are enhanced by anthropogenic causes, such as urbanization and industrialization. Due to the strategic importance in terms of the environment, socioeconomy, cultural and recreational activities for any coastal region of Europe, the resolution of their problems takes on a strategic importance in the field of sustainable development and integrated management. In this sense, multiple legal instruments, such as the Council Recommendations on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (2002) and the European Directive establishing a framework for maritime spatial planning (2014), seek to apply an ecosystem-based approach taking into account land-sea interactions and combining the sustainable use of coastal and marine resources with an effective means of accessing their economic benefits to govern the European coasts and seas.This chapter makes an analysis of the demographic and land-use changes of the European coastal zone, studies the most recent trends on coastal land use conflicts, and comes out with crucial information to improve the sea-land interface-integrated planning and management in Europe, giving an opportunity for more sustainable coastal development.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCoastal Zones
Subtitle of host publicationSolutions for the 21st Century
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9780128027592
ISBN (Print)9780128027486
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 10 Jun 2015


  • Coastal management
  • European Union
  • Land use
  • Marine framework directive
  • Policies
  • Population


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