Protecting coastal ecosystems means protecting the coasts, and may be effective in fighting sea level rise. Coastlines see the interaction between human population demand and marine ecosystem integrity, and since humans don’t use the coasts in sustainable ways, the coastal environments are now severely degraded. Coasts should be saved for their own sakes, but also for the services that they provide humans, including as tourist attractions, artisanal fisheries, and as regions of nutrient retention. Coast vegetation and coral reefs prevent devastating effects of hurricanes and sea level rise, more effectively than dikes and engineering efforts. Many populations of marine mammals and birds have decreased since the medieval and industrialized periods, but some are slowly recovering, and with the right management, coastal biodiversity could be brought back. Mangrove forests have an important function for capturing sediments, protecting coasts, and providing nurseries for small crustaceans, but many of them have been cut to be replaced by shrimp aquaculture.
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