Case studies: Retreat Ystad Skåne

Coastal locations in Skåne suitable for retreat and ecosystem-based solutions

Sandy beaches are dynamic, and the coastline fluctuates over time. The processes, with erosion and accumulation of sediments along sandy beaches, are natural. Erosion is not a problem in itself, but can become so if infrastructure or buildings are located too close to the coast. However, sand dunes or other larger sandy areas along the coast can act as a natural protection for the infrastructure. In several places, sea level rise will increase the erosion, resulting in a more severe retreat of the coast than the sea level rise itself causes. Due to the latest year’s storms and extreme weather events, in combination with sea level rise, the coastal municipalities and property owners plan for different arrangements to protect properties and infrastructure. In this project, we aimed to investigate the coast to find locations suitable for planned retreat and ecosystem-based solutions to handle the problems with erosion.


We quantified the volume of sand present between the coastline and buildings or infrastructure along sandy beaches in Skåne. Then we identified parts of the sandy coast where buildings and infrastructure were lacking at 300 meters inland from the coastline. These areas lacking infrastructure could potentially serve as retreat areas.


Out of the almost 200 km long sandy coast of Skåne, more than half of the coastline had more than 300 m3 sand per meter coastline in front of the infrastructure, constituting a good protection. Out of the remaining sandy coast of Scania, 23 % had between 150 and 300 m3 sand per meter coastline, while only 22 % of the coast had less than 150 m3 sand per meter coastline. Parts of the coast where infrastructure was lacking at least 300 meters inland from the coastline were identified. These parts of the coast could likely be left to fluctuate naturally and serve as retreat areas. Around 70 km lacked infrastructure within 300 meters from the coast, and another 30 km of the coast partly lacked infrastructure. It is important to keep the coastal areas without infrastructure close to the coastline free of infrastructure, so that the coastline can be left to fluctuate naturally.
Today we do not know how the area will progress, and if no long-term plan exists. To guarantee the persistence of the area, it is not wise to allow for more houses.

Local context

The characteristics of the coast of Skåne, partly lacking buildings and infrastructure give opportunities to avoid coastal defendseif we can keep the coastal areas without new settlements and infrastructure. These areas are potentially important areas for retreat so that the coastline can be left to fluctuate naturally.


All documents of the BwN project can be found at publications, below you find the documents belonging to this specific case study: