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Ecosystems in coastal regions are under severe pressure coastal areas is now twice as high as the global aver-
as a result of a number of factors. One of these factors age. Environmental change is expected to exacerbate the
is the rapid and poorly planned urbanization around the exposure of many coastal urban areas to natural hazards
world in ecologically sensitive coastal areas that often from rising sea levels, increased erosion and salinity and
increases vulnerabilities to coastal hazards and climate the degradation of wetlands and coastal lowlands.
change impacts. The average population density in
Coastal population and shoreline degradation DownloaD Graphic 2
None
Less than 30%
30 to 70%
More than 70%
Selected coastal cities of more
than one million people
Most altered
Altered
Least altered
Source: Adapted from UNEP
2002b, based on Burke and others
2001, Harrison and Pearce 2001
Physical destruction of coastal aquatic ecosystems in Meso-America
DownloaD Graphic 2
Coastal development represents one of the main threats to the Meso-American Quintana Roo coast is provided by its cavern systems, and their preservation is a
coral reefs and mangroves. Construction and the conversion of coastal habitat has major challenge. This trend is echoed in Belize, where ecotourism appears to be
destroyed sensitive wetlands (mangroves) and coastal forests, and led to an giving way to large-scale tourism development, involving the transformation of
increase in sedimentation. The effects of coastal development are compounded by entire cays, lagoons and mangrove forests to accommodate cruise ships,
insufficient measures for the treatment of wastewater. recreational facilities and other tourism demands.
Tourism Aquaculture
Tourism, particularly when it is coastal- and marine-based, is the fastest growing The rapid growth of shrimp aquaculture in Honduras has had serious impacts on
industry in the region. The state of Quintana Roo in Mexico is experiencing the environment and local communities. The farms deprive fishers and farmers of
significant growth in the tourism infrastructure all along the Caribbean coast to access to the mangroves, estuaries and seasonal lagoons; they destroy the
Belize. The conversion of mangrove forest into beachfront tourist resorts along the mangrove ecosystems and the habitats of fauna and flora, thus reducing the
Mayan Riviera, south of Cancun, has left coastlines vulnerable. Playa del Carmen, biodiversity; they alter the hydrology of the region and contribute to degraded
at 14 per cent, has the fastest growth in tourism infrastructure in Mexico. Threats to water quality; and they contribute to the decline of fish stocks through the
the aquifers come from increasing water use, of which 99 per cent is withdrawn indiscriminate capture of fish for feed.
from groundwater, and wastewater disposal. Much of the attraction of the
2006
Bank
orld
W
2005b,
UNEP
2006,
INEGI
2005b
2005,
CNA
UNEP
Credit:
Sources:
ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT 33
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