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Researchers warn "we need to act quickly" as less than 16% of the world's coastal regions remain intact

Coastal regions around the world are experiencing high levels of "human pressure," with only about 15.5% of them remaining intact as of 2013, a recent study from Australian researchers concluded. 

The study, by the University of Queensland, focused on quantifying "industrialized" pressures that are known to damage the environment, such as roadways, nutrient pollution from agriculture activities and even intense fishing. 

Calling on urgent conservation efforts, researchers identified regions that are highly degraded and ones that have remained unharmed.

"The rate at which these regions are degrading poses massive threats to not only coastal species and habitats, but also to the health, safety and economic security of countless people who live or rely on coastal regions around the world," co-author Brooke Williams wrote.

The University of Queensland

In the United States, it has becoming increasingly clear that only the wealthy can afford to live near rising seas, due in part to people with high incomes being able to afford climate mitigation measures, according to an economist.

Coastal cities like Miami have a heightened risk of flooding due to climate change, and in May 2021, Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis signed a $640 million resiliency bill to mitigate the rising sea levels in the state.

The research found that more than half of the United States' coastal regions are under very high levels of human pressure, while neighboring Canada has managed to keep most of its coastal area undamaged.

The University of Queensland

Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware had high levels of human pressure, compared to some places that still remained relatively preserved including coastal regions in Louisiana, the Everglades National Park and Alaska, according to the study.

Dr. Amelia Wenger, the senior author of the study, described the research findings as "truly eye-opening," and urges those in power should respond proactively to help in conservation efforts.

"Understanding why coastal ecosystems are under pressure can help us design and implement more target management strategies, and hopefully slow this degradation down and even turn it around," Wegner said in a release about the study. 

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