Benefits of adapting to sea level rise: the importance of ecosystem services in the French Mediterranean sandy coastline

Abstract

This article proposes an innovative approach to assess the benefits of adapting to sea level rise (SLR) in a coastal area on a regional scale. The valuation framework integrates coastal ecosystem services, together with urban and agricultural assets. We simulate the impacts of a progressive 1 m rise in sea level in the twenty-first century and an extreme flooding event in 2100 for four contrasted adaptation scenarios (Denial, “Laissez-faire”, Protection and Retreat). The assessment involves coupling the results of hazard-modelling approaches with different economic valuation methods, including direct damage functions and methods used in environmental economics. The framework is applied to the French Mediterranean sandy coastline. SLR will result in major land-use changes at the 2100 time horizon: relocation or densification of urban areas, loss of agricultural land, increase in lagoon areas and modification of wetlands (losses, migration or extension of ecosystems). Total benefits of public adaptation options planned in advance could reach €31.2 billion for the period 2010–2100, i.e. €69,000 per inhabitant (in the study area) in 2010 or €135 million/km of coastline. Our results highlight the importance of (i) raising awareness to ensure that public services and coastal managers can anticipate the consequences of SLR and (ii) incorporating coastal ecosystems into the assessment of the adaptation options. Our findings could provide a basis for participatory foresight approaches to build coastline adaptation pathways.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    http://www.siglr.org/

  2. 2.

    Activity conducted as part of the multidisciplinary MISEEVA research project, funded by the French National Research Agency

  3. 3.

    http://www.siglr.org/

  4. 4.

    immobilier.com and terrain-construction.com consulted in March 2011

  5. 5.

    While RF and EF may also impact beaches and dunes by increasing erosion rates, data and knowledge were insufficient to build plausible assumptions for the evolution in erosion over the next few decades.

  6. 6.

    Under the Protection scenario, lagoon and wetland ecosystems are assumed to remain stable (Online Resource 2).

  7. 7.

    Impacts of an EF event are not included in the analysis, and they are considered to be negligible in comparison with PF and RF impacts because coastal wetland and lagoon ecosystems are resilient to EF.

  8. 8.

    The characterisation of physical impacts is based on interviews and working sessions with the stakeholders and scientific researchers actively involved in managing the lagoons and associated wetlands in the study area.

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Funding

This research was undertaken in the framework of the research project “Marine Inundation Hazard Exposure Modelling and Social, Economic and Environmental Vulnerability Assessment in regard to Global Changes” (MISEEVA), which was financed by the French National Research Agency. We gratefully acknowledge Jean-Daniel Rinaudo for his useful comments and suggestions. The preparatory work for this chapter was made possible thanks to financial support from BRGM.

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Correspondence to Cécile Hérivaux.

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Editor:Sarah Gergel.

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Hérivaux, C., Rey-Valette, H., Rulleau, B. et al. Benefits of adapting to sea level rise: the importance of ecosystem services in the French Mediterranean sandy coastline. Reg Environ Change 18, 1815–1828 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-018-1313-y

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Keywords

  • Sea level rise
  • Ecosystem services
  • Adaptation options
  • Climate change
  • Economic valuation