Human dimensions of our estuaries and coasts




Yoskowitz, David
Russell, Marc


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The connection between humans and the sea via the coastal margin is well understood. Many of our major cities are built in the coastal zone, and 44 % of the world’s population lives within 150 km of the coast (United Nations 2014a). This tight connection is driven by the benefits of commerce and the natural environment in the form of ecosystem goods and services. Our relationship with our coastal areas, however, is a delicate one. We receive numerous benefits but also have significant impacts on the systems providing these benefits. Quite simply, we often dominate our coasts, thus making the issue of governance even more relevant (Weinstein et al. 2007). Anthropogenic impacts, thus, eventually feedback and impact our well-being (MEA 2005; Cardinale, et al. 2012). Like many complex biogeochemical reactions, multiple ecosystem, economic, and social–cultural reagents combine in multiple ways to influence the end result. We propose here that the reagents of human well-being can be broken down to their elemental form.

In autumn of 2011, the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation held its 21st biennial meeting. The theme of that conference was Societies, Estuaries, and Coasts: Adapting to Change. A unique aspect of this particular convening was the emphasis placed upon the interaction of humans with coastal environments, both as beneficiaries and sources of problems. The substantial number of presentations focusing on human dimensions demonstrated an expertise not traditionally a part of biophysical scientist gatherings. The success of that assemblage spurred the idea for a special theme section of the Federation’s journal, Estuaries and Coasts. This paper introduces that special section.



human dimensions, human, estuaries, estuary, coast



Attribution 4.0 International


Yoskowitz, D. and Russell, M., 2015. Human dimensions of our estuaries and coasts. Estuaries and Coasts, 38(1), pp.1-8.