|Published in||Ecology and the Environment, 2021|
Defeo, O., McLachlan, A., Armitage, D., Elliott, M. & Pittman, J.
UNDECIMAR, Faculty of Sciences, Iguá 4225, 11400 Montevideo, Uruguay
O.D. and J.P. were supported by the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (grant SGP-HW 017). O.D. was also supported by  Comisión Sectorial de Investigación Científica of Uruguay (CSIC Grupos ID 32). D.A. was supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research  Council of Canada.
|IAI Project||SGP-HW 017|
Sandy beach ecosystems make up almost half of the world’s ice-free ocean coastline and function as social–ecological systems
No other ecosystem on the planet is subject to such a high level of human recreational use, which is increasing worldwide as demand for leisure time rises;
We illustrate a global trend in social–ecological shifts and collapses of sandy beach ecosystems due to local and distant pressures;
A lack of long-term policies and strategic planning reduces governance capacity, which must be participatory and resilient to environmental changes.
Sandy shores make up half of the world&rsquos ice-free ocean coastlines and support a higher level of recreational use than any other ecosystem. However, the contribution of sandy beaches to societal welfare is being affected by both local and distant pressures, including expanding human development and climate-related stressors. These pressures are impairing the capacity of beaches to satisfy recreation, provide food, protect livelihoods, and maintain biodiversity and water quality. This will increase the likelihood of social-ecological collapses and regime shifts, so that beaches will sustain neither the original ecosystem function nor the related services and societal goods and benefits that they provide. These social-ecological systems at the land-sea interface are subject to market forces, weak governance institutions, and societal indifference: most people want a beach, but few recognize it as an ecosystem at risk.