Sustainable Shores

Our coastal habitats are shrinking, but there are practical ways that we can save and enhance these valuable places. Our Sustainable Shores project provides some solutions.

Saltmarsh on managed realignment / retreat site, Wallasea Island


The UK’s estuaries and coasts are incredibly valuable: as places to live, work, relax and play, and for the wealth of wildlife they support. They help protect us from flooding; they lock away carbon; they support our fisheries and they attract millions of visitors. In fact, it’s estimated that the value of the services provided by our coastal habitats is £48 billion.

A shrinking resource

However, our coastal zone is in trouble. It is shrinking. Our Sustainable Shores project has found that since World War II we have lost over 15% of our UK saltmarsh (around 8,000ha), 18% of our sand dunes (16,000ha) and 46% of our shingle habitat (5,000ha). These losses are largely down to coastal development and land reclamation. Worryingly, without action we will lose a further 3000ha by 2050 due to climate change and sea level rise. 

Delivering change

In our Sustainable Shores project report, we set out how we can address these challenges through habitat creation and restoration, learning from our own experience at the RSPB. Over the last 25 years, we have been involved in delivering more than a third of newly created coastal habitat.

The report also makes a number of recommendations to UK governments and policy makers to ensure that our precious coastal habitats are protected and enhanced for the benefit of people and wildlife, now and for the future.


Coast on a stormy day

Nathan Richardson

Senior Policy Officer, Land Use Policy
Coast on a stormy day

Leigh Lock

Senior Species Recovery Officer, Nature Recovery
Tagged with: Country: UK Habitat: Marine and intertidal Species: Curlew Species: Little tern Species: Oystercatcher Species: Redshank Project status: Project types: Research Project types: Site protection