Coastal resilience

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Hard structures like dams, sea walls, and canals have boosted coastal development, but also resulted  in the loss of valuable coastal wetlands and their services. Seawalls for example may trigger large scale erosion, both on-site and further down the coast due to interference with currents and sediment flows. Such infrastructures are often too expensive to serve rural coastlines, are incapable of adapting to climate change and fail to provide the vital economic, environmental and social services that healthy wetlands provide.

Using the Building with Nature approach, we aim to catalyse a fundamental shift in coastal and delta planning: from a single sided infrastructure based approach, towards one that combines infrastructure development, ecosystem development and broader land-use planning. This allows the reintegration of wetlands in the landscape, and enables the provision of their coastal protection services as well as co-benefits such as fisheries provision, recreational values, and carbon storage.

We already demonstrate this approach in Central Java where we try to protect a severely eroding coastline by combining the construction of permeable brushwood dams and sediment nourishments with the restoration of protective mangrove belts. The engineering measures restore the disturbed mud-profile, creating fertile grounds for mangroves to naturally colonise along the coast. The mangroves provide renewed protection in the longer-run. By supporting more sustainable aquaculture practices we address the root causes to the loss of mangroves and subsequent erosion process. Together with the Indonesian government we build the knowledge and capacity to sustain the result and replicate it elsewhere.

Our ambition is to scale up Building with Nature approaches and techniques in other areas, including in urban areas. We therefore promote wider application and link them to policies and plans, driving increased investment in nature-based solutions.

Find out more about Building with Nature.