University Of Tasmania

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Identifying knowledge gaps hampering application of intertidal habitats in coastal protection: opportunities and steps to take

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 18:44 authored by Bouma, TJ, van Belzen, J, Balke, T, Zhu, Z, Airoldi, L, Blight, AJ, Davies, AJ, Galvan, C, Hawkins, SJ, Hoggart, SPG, Lara, JL, Losada, IJ, Maza, M, Ondiviela, B, Skov, MW, Elisabeth StrainElisabeth Strain, Thompson, RC, Yang, S, Zanuttigh, B, Zhang, L, Herman, PMJ
Over the last decades, population densities in coastal areas have strongly increased. At the same time, many intertidal coastal ecosystems that provide valuable services in terms of coastal protection have greatly degraded. As a result, coastal defense has become increasingly dependent on man-made engineering solutions. Ongoing climate change processes such as sea-level rise and increased storminess, require a rethinking of current coastal defense practices including the development of innovative and cost-effective ways to protect coastlines. Integrating intertidal coastal ecosystems within coastal defense schemes offers a promising way forward. In this perspective, we specifically aim to (1) provide insight in the conditions under which ecosystems may be valuable for coastal protection, (2) discuss which might be the most promising intertidal ecosystems for this task and (3) identify knowledge gaps that currently hamper application and hence need attention from the scientific community. Ecosystems can contribute most to coastal protection by wave attenuation in areas with relatively small tidal amplitudes, and/or where intertidal areas are wide. The main knowledge gap hampering application of intertidal ecosystems within coastal defense schemes is lack in ability to account quantitatively for long-term ecosystem dynamics. Such knowledge is essential, as this will determine both the predictability and reliability of their coastal defense function. Solutions integrating intertidal ecosystems in coastal defense schemes offer promising opportunities in some situations, but require better mechanistic understanding of ecosystem dynamics in space and time to enable successful large-scale application.


Publication title

Coastal Engineering








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Elsevier Science Bv

Place of publication

Po Box 211, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1000 Ae

Rights statement

Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems; Rehabilitation or conservation of coastal or estuarine environments; Other environmental policy, climate change and natural hazards not elsewhere classified