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Between a rock and a hard place: Environmental and engineering considerations when designing coastal defence structures

Between a rock and a hard place: Environmental and engineering considerations when designing coastal defence structures
Between a rock and a hard place: Environmental and engineering considerations when designing coastal defence structures
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.
Ecological engineering, Coastal protection, Habitat enhancement, Biodiversity, Conservation, BIOBLOCK
0378-3839
122-135
Firth, L.B.
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Thompson, R.C.
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Bohn, K.
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Abbiati, M.
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Airoldi, L.
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Bouma, T.J.
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Bozzeda, F.
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Ceccherelli, V.U.
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Colangelo, M.A.
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Evans, A.
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Ferrario, F.
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Hanley, M.E.
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Hinz, H.
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Hoggart, S.P.G.
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Jackson, J.E.
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Moore, P.
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Morgan, E.H.
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Perkol-Finkel, S.
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Skov, M.W.
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Strain, E.M.
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van Belzen, J.
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Hawkins, S.J.
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Firth, L.B.
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Thompson, R.C.
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Bohn, K.
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Abbiati, M.
bc9d84f6-31b6-47a6-bda8-0e9f35f32f9c
Airoldi, L.
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Bouma, T.J.
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Bozzeda, F.
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Ceccherelli, V.U.
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Colangelo, M.A.
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Evans, A.
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Ferrario, F.
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Hanley, M.E.
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Hinz, H.
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Hoggart, S.P.G.
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Jackson, J.E.
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Moore, P.
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Morgan, E.H.
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Perkol-Finkel, S.
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Skov, M.W.
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Strain, E.M.
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van Belzen, J.
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Hawkins, S.J.
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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. and Hawkins, S.J. (2014) Between a rock and a hard place: Environmental and engineering considerations when designing coastal defence structures. Coastal Engineering, 87, 122-135. (doi:10.1016/j.coastaleng.2013.10.015).

Record type: Article

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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More information

Published date: May 2014
Keywords: Ecological engineering, Coastal protection, Habitat enhancement, Biodiversity, Conservation, BIOBLOCK
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 365343
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/365343
ISSN: 0378-3839
PURE UUID: 511ccb56-cb0c-4efa-a668-d8932ef25b40

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Date deposited: 02 Jun 2014 13:01
Last modified: 16 Jul 2019 21:04

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Contributors

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

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