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Between a rock and a hard place: Environmental and engineering considerations when designing coastal defence structures
Firth, L.B.; Thompson, R.C.; Bohn, K.; Abbiati, M.; Airoldi, L.; Bouma, T.J.; Bozzeda, F.; Ceccherelli, V.U.; Colangelo, M.A.; Evans, A.; Ferrario, F.; Hanley, M.E.; Hinz, H.; Hoggart, S.P.G.; Jackson, J.E.; Moore, P.; Morgan, E.H.; Perkol-Finkel, S.; Skov, M.W.; Strain, E.M.; van Belzen, J.; Hawkins, S.J. (2014). Between a rock and a hard place: Environmental and engineering considerations when designing coastal defence structures. Coast. Eng. 87: 122-135. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.coastaleng.2013.10.015
In: Coastal Engineering: An International Journal for Coastal, Harbour and Offshore Engineers. Elsevier: Amsterdam; Lausanne; New York; Oxford; Shannon; Tokyo. ISSN 0378-3839, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Keyword
    Marine
Author keywords
    Ecological engineering; Coastal protection; Habitat enhancement;Biodiversity; Conservation; BIOBLOCK

Project Top | Authors 
  • Innovative coastal technologies for safer European coasts in a changing climate, more

Authors  Top 
  • Firth, L.B.
  • Thompson, R.C.
  • Bohn, K.
  • Abbiati, M.
  • Airoldi, L.
  • Bouma, T.J., more
  • Bozzeda, F.
  • Ceccherelli, V.U.
  • Colangelo, M.A., more
  • Evans, A.
  • Ferrario, F., more
  • Hanley, M.E.
  • Hinz, H.
  • Hoggart, S.P.G.
  • Jackson, J.E.
  • Moore, P.
  • Morgan, E.H.
  • Perkol-Finkel, S.
  • Skov, M.W.
  • Strain, E.M.
  • van Belzen, J., more
  • Hawkins, S.J.

Abstract
    Coastal defence structures are proliferating as a result of rising sea levels and stormier seas. With the realisation that most coastal infrastructure cannot be lost or removed, research is required into ways that coastal defence structures can be built to meet engineering requirements, whilst also providing relevant ecosystem services so-called ecological engineering. This approach requires an understanding of the types of assemblages and their functional roles that are desirable and feasible in these novel ecosystems. We review the major impacts coastal defence structures have on surrounding environments and recent experiments informing building coastal defences in a more ecologically sustainable manner. We summarise research carried out during the THESEUS project (2009-2014) which optimised the design of coastal defence structures with the aim to conserve or restore native species diversity. Native biodiversity could be manipulated on defence structures through various interventions: we created artificial rock pools, pits and crevices on breakwaters; we deployed a precast habitat enhancement unit in a coastal defence scheme; we tested the use of a mixture of stone sizes in gabion baskets; and we gardened native habitat-forming species, such as threatened canopy-forming algae on coastal defence structures. Finally, we outline guidelines and recommendations to provide multiple ecosystem services while maintaining engineering efficacy. This work demonstrated that simple enhancement methods can be cost-effective measures to manage local biodiversity. Care is required, however, in the wholesale implementation of these recommendations without full consideration of the desired effects and overall management goals.

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