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An ecosystem approach towards Belgian coastal policy
Vanden Eede, S. (2013). An ecosystem approach towards Belgian coastal policy, in: Vanden Eede, S. Impact of beach nourishment on coastal ecosystems, with recommendations for coastal policy in Belgium = Impact van zandsuppleties op kustecosystemen met aanbevelingen voor het Belgische kustbeleid. pp. 143-162
In: Vanden Eede, S. (2013). Impact of beach nourishment on coastal ecosystems, with recommendations for coastal policy in Belgium = Impact van zandsuppleties op kustecosystemen met aanbevelingen voor het Belgische kustbeleid. PhD Thesis. Ghent University: Gent. ISBN 978-90-90278-4-38. xxx, 301 pp., more

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Keywords
    Beach nourishment; Guidelines; Monitoring; Tools; Marine
Author keywords
    Ecosystem based management; Coastal policy;

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  • Vanden Eede, S., more

Abstract
    The Belgian coastal zone hosts a complex of space-use and resource-use activities with a myriad of pressures impairing environmental conditions both on the coastline and on coastal waters Specifically at the beach zone, predictions on sea level rise, intensified storms accelerated erosion and flood risk for the North Sea have led to the drafting of the Belgian Integrated Coastal Safety Plan. The preferred coastal defence measure is beach nourishment as it safeguards the natural dynamics of the coast and has little impact on the beach ecology and tourism compared to other options. However, together with the multitude of human beach functions such as tourism and economic development, beach nourishment potentially threatens the nature characteristics of the beach ecosystem. As management of the coastal zone is clearly a multi-faceted and complex endeavour, where the interests of several stakeholders need to be combined, coastal management desperately needs ecological dimensions. Hence, solid and meaningful biological and ecological information is needed Clear and user-friendly management tools are essential to guide integrative and ecosystem-based strategies to sustainably manage ongoing space-use activities at the Belgian coast. From 1997 to 2011, relevant research data was gathered in 16 intertidal and 10 shallow subtidal coastal locations, over years in 3 different seasons to (1) give an overview of the natural spatial and temporal variation in the Belgian coastal zone and (2) define the realized niches of the dominant intertidal and shallow subtidal macrobenthos. The in situ impact effects of an ecological nourishment were tested according to a Before After Control Impact (BAC) design (2008 - 2012) straddling the nourishment event (2009). The sediment preferences of the dominant Belgian intertidal beach macrofauna were experimentally tested both in single-species and combined-species conditions.All these research results and data were used to (1) formulate research based guidelines for Belgian policy, especially regarding ecological beach nourishment, (2) develop an ecological model to predict the ecosystem response of beach nourishment scenarios at different trophic levels, (3) establish a scientifically sound and spatially based biological valuation of the Belgian coastal zone, using the marine biological valuation method (Derous et al. 2007) and (4) produce beach records, encompassing all relevant data gathered on the 16 intertidal and 10 shallow subtidal studies coastal locations. These management tools will assist local decision makers and allow for the integration of ‘nature’ at an early stage of coastal policy implementation. Some future perspectives for Belgian coastal research are provided as well.

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