Marine coastal environments
The coast is a broad term, but is often defined as 5 km inland from the shoreline (the Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning definition) or where the influence from the sea ends. The term coast often includes coastal waters, which is part of the coastal zone utilized by man. The types of species that exist in Swedish coastal areas are limited by physical conditions such as climate, bedrock, currents, waves and salinity. In addition, nutrients, competition and human utilization to a large extent affect the distribution of species.
Which coast types are found in Sweden?
The Swedish coast is very diverse with both protective tree and shrub-covered environments and open sandy, stony and rocky coasts. The coast offers a wide variety of habitats and has a large diversity of species. The types of species and habitats that exist in coastal areas are determined by soil and soil chemistry (e.g. lime content), humidity, climate and sea salinity. Examples of habitats are sand beaches, sand dune areas, mud beaches, beach meadows, rocky shores, heaths, lagoons, bays, islands and islets.
Utilization of the coast
Almost half of the population of Sweden lives on the coast and many visit the coast during the year. Fishing and transportation via water have historically been important reasons for coastal habitation. Nowadays summer residence, recreation and tourism attract large numbers of people to the coast. Man has influenced and altered the coast to a large extent. Some habitats and species that were previously common are now only found in small and fragmented areas, e.g. on beach meadows with their specific flora and fauna. The change in agricultural practises along the coast such as abandoned management has meant that many species linked to culturally modified habitats are endangered. Other coastal habitats are overgrown due to eutrophication for example. In the dune areas the plantation of sand-binding vegetation in particular is a major cause of overgrowth.