Adapting to Climate Change in the Coastal Zone – Factsheets. Managed Adaptation Options

Authors: Wade Hadwen, Samantha Capon, Daijiro Kobashi, Joanne Green, Ben Cook, Shireen Fahey, Ashton Berry, Amy Lalonde, Aimee Hall, Morgan Pratchett, Line Bay, Elvira Polczanska, Tara Martin and Wayne Rochester
Year: 2012

This factsheet provides information on a range of managed adaptation options currently being used and considered in coastal environments to moderate harm and/or exploit beneficial opportunities under climate change. Managed adaptation includes the intentional adaptation of human systems for particular goals such as the conservation of coastal ecosystems and species. On-ground climate change adaptation options can be hard or soft, or a combination of both. In the context of coastal adaptation, an example of hard engineering would be to use man-made structures to intervene in coastal processes by altering the influence of waves on coastal erosion. Typically, hard engineering is implemented for human benefit and ecological impacts are less well known, and at worst, maladaptive. In contrast, the soft engineering approach is based on ecological principles. Examples of coastal ecosystem adaptation include managed retreat (removal and replacement of hard engineering structures by more ecologically beneficial options), revegetation, beach nourishment, and beach drainage. Ecological engineering combines hard and soft adaptation measures to protect human coastal systems while reducing impacts on ecosystem health and function. This approach emphasises the creation of artificial habitats that potentially enable ecosystems to adapt. Ecosystem engineering refers to the use of species with the ability to engineer or create ecosystems with particular characteristics, e.g.: use of oysters and mussels to stabilise soft sediments allowing reef building; use of coral seeding and transplantation to enable recolonization of coral reef ecosystems; use of dune grasses to stabilise fore dunes. Finally, policy and planning tools can also be used to minimise disturbance by human impacts that could exacerbate the vulnerability of coastal ecosystems to climate change.

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