Nature-based approaches in coastal flood risk management: Physical restrictions and engineering challenges

Bregje K. van Wesenbeeck*, Myra D. van der Meulen, Carla Pesch, H.J. de Vriend, Mindert B. de Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Ecosystem destruction not only incurs large costs for restoration but also increases hydraulic forces on existing flood defence infrastructure. This realisation has made the inclusion of ecosystems and their services into flood defence schemes a rapidly growing field. However, these new solutions require different design, construction and management methods. A close collaboration between engineers, ecologists and experts in public administration is essential for adequate designs. In addition, a mutual understanding of the basic principles of each other’s field of expertise is paramount. This chapter presents some simple approaches for the integration of ecosystem-based measures into coastal engineering projects, which may be of use to experts from a range of fields. Further, it stresses the importance of ecological processes which determine the persistence and health of coastal ecosystems, a point which is rarely emphasised in coastal engineering. The main aim of this chapter is to highlight the role of ecosystem properties for flood defence to stimulate the coastal engineering community in adopting an ecosystem view. In the near future the hope is that greater awareness of ecosystem processes will lead to more sustainable and climate-robust designs. For this, engineers, ecologists and social scientists involved in coastal defence projects need to develop a common language, share the same design concepts and be willing to share the responsibility for these innovative designs.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research
EditorsFabrice G. Renaud, Karen Sudmeier-Rieux, Marisol Estrella, Udo Nehren
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-43633-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-43631-9
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameAdvances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research
ISSN (Print)18789897
ISSN (Electronic)22136959


  • Coastal engineering
  • Coastal management
  • Design
  • Ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem-based management
  • Flood risk mitigation
  • Nature-based coastal defence


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