Large parts of the coasts of Great Britain (including England, Wales, and Scotland) already experience a number of problems, including sediment starvation and erosion, loss/degradation of coastal ecosystems, and significant exposure to coastal flooding. Sea-level rise and other potential climate change will exacerbate all of these issues. Coastal management is embracing sea-level rise and climate change as one of the long-term issues that must be addressed, while recent nonstatutory guidelines are encouraging decision makers and actors alike to promote integrated coastal-zone management. Hence, preparations for adaptation to sea-level rise are more advanced than in most European coastal countries. In England and Wales, it is recommended that new coastal defences consider an allowance for accelerated sea-level rise. Strategic shoreline management plans have also been prepared, which include proposals for managed retreat (termed managed realignment) in flood-prone areas with low levels of development, and allowing continued erosion of retreating cliffs. More strategic tools for coastal management are also being developed. Future needs include a better response to the uncertainties of climate change, better guidance on managing the interaction between river flooding and sea-level rise in coastal lowlands, regional analyses of changes in coastal ecosystem stocks, and flood management for London and the Thames River. Scotland requires more basic assessment to define the key issues and needs.
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Vol. 2008 • No. 242