Coastal Zone: Case Studies


Coastal Flooding: The Maldives

The Maldives is a group of islands in the Indian Ocean.



  • Loss of tourism 
    • Largest industry
    • If main airport can't work then the country will be cut off from international tourists.
    • Massively reduce the country's income
  • Disrupted Fishing industry
    • Fish are the Maldives' largest export.
    • Reduced fish exports and income.


  • Damaged/destroyed houses. 
  • Less freshwater available.
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Coastal Flooding: The Maldives (continued)


  • Loss of beaches
    • Habitats destroyed
    • Exposes land to more flooding. 
  • Loss of soil
    • Plants will not be able to grow.


  • The Maldivian Government had to ask the Japanese Government to give them $60 million to build the 3m high sea wall that protects the capital city, Malé.
  • Changes to environmental policies
    • The Maldives have pledged to become carbon neutral.
  • Changes to long-term plans
    • Buying land in other countries to move Maldivians to before the islands become uninhabitable. 
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Coastal Erosion: The Holderness Coastline

Holderness in east Yorkshire has one of the fastest eroding coastlines in Europe with an average erosion rate of 1.8 metres per year.

Background information

  • The Holderness coastline is 61km long - stretching from Flamborough Head (a headland) to Spurn Head (a spit).
  • Erosion is causing the cliffs to collapse.


  • Easily eroded rock type - cliffs made of boulder clay which is most likely to slump when wet.
  • Naturally narrow beaches - less protection against strong and fast waves.
  • Defences up the coast hog all the material - groynes at Mappleton mean no natural defence along the rest of the coastline
  • Powerful waves - Holderness faces the prevailing wind direction, which brings waves from the north east. Waves increase in power over this long distance, so the coast is attacked by highly erosive waves.
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Coastal Erosion: The Holderness Coastline (continu

Impacts on people's lives

  • Homes near cliffs are at risk of collapsing into the sea.
  • Property prices along the coast have fallen sharply due to the risk of erosion.
  • Accessibility to some settlements has been affected because roads near cliff tops are at risk of collapsing into the sea.
  • Businesses are at risk from erosion so people will lose their jobs.
  • The gas terminal at Easington is at risk; this terminal accounts for 25% of Britain's gas supply.
  • 80,000m² of farmland is lost each year. This has a huge effect on farmers' livelihoods. 

Environmental Impacts

  • Some SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) are threatened.
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Coastal Management: The Holderness Coastline

Hard engineering strategies have been used along Holderness.

Bridlington is protected from erosion and flooding by a 4.7km long sea wall as well as wooden groynes.

There's a sea wall, wooden groynes and rock armour at Hornesa that protect the village from erosion and flooding. 

Defences including two rock groynes were built at Mappleton in 1991. 

There are groynes to create wider beaches and a sea wall at Withernsea. Some rock armour was placed in front of the wall after it was damaged in severe storms in 1992. 

The eastern side of Spurn Head is protected by groynes and rock armour. This also protects the Humber Estuary behind Spurn Head. 

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Coastal Management: The Holderness Coastline (cont

The Strategies are locally successful, but cause problems elsewhere.

  • Groynes protect local areas but cause narrow beaches to form further down the Holderness coast. This increase erosion down the coast.
  • The material produced from the erosion of Holderness is normally transported south into the Humber Estuary - increasing flooding.
  • The rate of coastal retreat along the Lincolnshire coast is also increased, because less new matieral is being added.
  • Spurn Head is at risk of being eroded away because less material is being added to it.
  • Bays are forming between the proteced areas, and the protected areas are becoming headlands which are being eroded more heavily. This means maintaining the defences in the protected areas is becoming more expensive.
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Coastal Habitat: Studland Bay

Studland Bay is a coastal area with beaches, dunes and heathland.

Background information

  • Studland Bay is a bay in Dorset, in the south west of England.
  • It's mostly sheltered from highly erosive waves, but the southern end is being eroded.
  • There are sandy beaches around the bay, with sand dunes and heathland behind them.
  • The headland is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a nature reserve.
  • Studland Bay is also a popular tourist destination.

Wildlife and Habitats

  • Marram grass has folded leaves to reduce water loss. It also has long roots to take up water and stabilise itself in the loose sand.
  • Lyme grass has waxy leaves to reduce water loss by transpiration.
  • Grebes - these birds dive underwarer to find food in the sea. Their feet are far back on their bodies to help them dive (it makes them streamlined). 
  • Snakes and lizards have thick, scaly skin to reduce water loss from their bodies. 
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Coastal Habitat: Studland Bay (continued)

There are conflicts between land use and the need for conservation.

1. Lots of people walk across the sand dunes which caused lots of erosion. The National Trust manages the area so people can use the sand dunes without damaging them too much:  

  • Boardwalks are used to guide people over the dunes thus the sand is protected.
  • Some sand dunes have been fenced off and stabalised with the marram grass.
  • Information signs have been put up to let visitors know why the sand dune habitat is important, and how they can enjoy the environment without damaging it.

2. Hundreds of boats use Studland Bay and their anchors are destroying the seagrass where seahorses live. Seahorses are protected by law, so boat owners are being told to not damage the seagrass.

3. The heathland behind the sand dunes is an important habitat, but it can be damaged by fires. The National Trust is eductating visitors on the dangers of causing fires and has provided fire beaters to extinguish flames. 

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