A NEW study suggests that exposure to coastal environments can play a significant role in boosting human health and well-being, due to the ‘therapeutic effects’ of marine and coastal landscapes.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and UK Research and Innovation-led review in collaboration with Plymouth Marine Laboratory and Exeter University, showed that Brits spending time by the sea reported increased happiness, better general health and were more physically active during their visit, compared to visits to other types of environment.

The relaxation of lockdown rules has seen thousands of visitors flocking to the Cardigan area.

The report highlights the important role of marine conservation work as visits to marine and coastal areas with designated or protected status and those with higher levels of biodiversity were associated with higher levels of calmness, relaxation and revitalisation, compared to locations without this status.

Professor Nicola Beaumont, head of science for sea and society at Plymouth Marine Laboratory, said: “Our research demonstrates that marine and coastal areas play an important role in supporting people’s well-being.

“However, we have also shown that these benefits are threatened by marine pollution, coastal development, climate change and exposure to extreme weather.

“With millions of us visiting the coast every year, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that we have the right measures in place to allow our marine environment to thrive.

“Getting these measures right is not easy and requires transformative, multidisciplinary research, with an aim to support sustainable and responsible ocean stewardship for the conservation of the environment and to ultimately improve lives.”

The report also warns that in the coming decades, climate change and extreme weather has the potential to jeopardise sensitive marine habitats, demonstrating the importance of the UK’s network of Marine Protected Areas.