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Coastal watersheds and nearshore marine areas are the most valuable and dynamic places on Earth. Human population growth is great in these regions, which are home to some of the most sensitive habitats in the world. Coastal areas provide more than half of the overall service value derived from the global environment (Costanza et al., 1997). Natural (e.g., hurricanes and tsunamis) and human pressures on this environment require it to constantly adjust. More than any other area, the global coast has defined the progress of human culture and continues to be a singular influence in how humans connect to the world around them.

For these reasons and others, the global coast should be a central focus in the environmental management decisions of governments at all levels. However, increasingly, we have come to understand that allowing the degradation and broad-scale change in coastal systems has another consequence—our own health.


Published in Oceanography, Volume 19, Number 2, June 2006, a quarterly journal of The Oceanography Society.


The Oceanography Society


Copyright 2006 by The Oceanography Society



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