Ecomorphology and habitat restoration: introduction

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The thematic ENCORA network for ecomorphology and habitat restoration has been set up with a twofold mission: (1) to understand the role of ecosystems in ensuring the resilience of the coastal zone in the context of economic development and climate change and (2) to identify management options and tools for maintaining / restoring resilient coastal ecosystems. Increased human exploitation and infrastructure developments in the coastal and estuarine zones affect the geo and eco-morphology that result in increased pressure on coastal habitats. This article discusses existing concepts for dealing with habitat change and identifying obstacles to effective management (including knowledge gaps). Technologies are identified for the restoration of habitats through the development of coastal environment-oriented technologies.

What is ecomorphology?


The concept of eco-morphology in coastal habitats is related to wetlands and estuaries taking into account the various human activities that may influence the area. To the left is a simple diagram illustrating the various human caused impacts that may influence the habitat: Physics pertains to ship traffic, navigational channels, harbours, fishing, and activities from tourism. Chemistry includes chemical substances such as oil spills, nutrients from agriculture, urban sewage and other topics related to water quality. Biology and Geology are the ecological factors in the coastal zone including various biotopes and species from flora and fauna and the sediment dynamics, type of sediment, type of dynamic morphology in the area. The problem faced is increased human exploitation and infrastructure developments in the coastal and estuarine zones influence the geo-and eco-morphology resulting in enlarged stress on coastal habitats.

Coastal Wiki articles related to ecomorphology and habitat restoration

The articles include research on the effects of development and use in different European countries. The goal is to find means to evaluate existing concepts for dealing with habitat change and identifying obstacles to effective management, including major existing knowledge gaps. It is also the vision to identify promising technologies for recovery of habitats through the development of environmental technologies that are focused on the coastal environment. In the table below, an indication of the impact from various human activities on the coastal zone is given.

A management strategy is needed to address all the direct threats to marine and coastal areas in order to protect and conserve the biodiversity and habitats. The threats to marine habitats are accumulating over time, because there are various sources of impact as indicated in the above table. The Millennium Assessment Millennium Ecosystem Assessment states that “Marine and coastal protected areas already dot coasts around the world, and the number of protected areas continues to increase. The bulk of these protected areas occur in coastal zones, and many include both terrestrial and aquatic components. However, even with the large number of individual sites, coverage accounts for less than 1% of the world’s oceans. Many marine protected areas occur in relatively close proximity to human settlements— in fact, nearly 10% of the world lives within 50 kilometres of a marine protected area, and over 25% of the worldwide coastal population lives within 50 kilometres of one." The figures for Europe are believed to be even larger. Another aspect is that management effectiveness of most marine protected areas remains questionable even though The Water Framework Directive and projects undertaken under the LOICZ (Land–Sea Interactions in the Coastal Zone) initiative are European examples of how management is taken seriously in Europe aiming at and resulting in lower pollutant loads and improved conditions in estuaries. But the need for even larger integrated water resource management schemes is persistent not least because of the dynamic nature of the water environment.

Coastal wiki articles related to Ecomorphology and habitat restoration:

Biogeomorphology of coastal systems
Conservation, rehabilitation and restoration of estuarine and coastal habitats
Ecological restoration of estuaries in North Western Europe
Habitat destruction and fragmentation
Resilience and resistance
Spatial and temporal scales in biogeomorphology
Coastal squeeze
Climate adaptation measures for the coastal zone
Carrying capacity and development of the Wadden Sea
Threats to the coastal zone
Dynamics, threats and management of salt marshes
Dynamics, threats and management of dunes
Dynamics, threats and management of biogenic reefs
Marine habitats and ecosystems
Impact of tourism in coastal areas: Need of sustainable tourism strategy
Overview of Coastal Habitat Protection and Restoration in the United States
US National Estuarine Research Reserve System
US National Marine Sanctuaries
US National Wildlife Refuge System
Mediterranean seagrass ecosystem
Seagrass recovery and restoration in the Wadden Sea
Marine Protected Areas in Europe


Coastal Wiki articles on regulations are primarily concerned with EU regulations forming the major part of the overall regulations for the coastal zone. They include the overall water framework directive addressing the ecological and chemical status of marine habitats, maritime policies and proposed marine strategies and specific directives addressing EU’s policy on nature conservation consisting of two directives, the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive and NATURA 2000, which is a number of protected coastal areas all over Europe.

Coastal wiki article related to regulation:

Ramsar Convention for Wetlands
Convention on Biological Diversity
Legislation for the sea
The Legal and Policy context of Multi-use Offshore Platforms
North Sea pollution from shipping: legal framework
Marine Spatial Planning - the need for a common language
Effects of fisheries on marine biodiversity
Birds Directive, Habitats Directive, NATURA 2000
Strategic Environmental Assessment

Tools and Methodologies

Methodologies for assessing the human impact of the coastal habitats vary from Habitat/biotopes mapping and Habitat assessment using GIS, remote sensing and other measuring techniques in the field to dynamic models describing the matter-sediment-nutrient interaction to economic methodologies for assessing human pressure on the coastal habitats and the general benefits for the environment. In this respect the idea of ecosystem services needs to be more closely addressed. We derive many goods from the coastal ecosystem not least seafood, but also recreational services. These goods represent important and familiar parts of the economy. What has been less appreciated until recently is that this ecosystem also perform fundamental life-support services including purification of air and water, detoxification and decomposition of waste, regulation of climate, and not least production and maintenance of biodiversity.

Tools addressing the eco-morphology in coastal habitats are varied depending on the aspect under consideration. It varies from field investigations, dynamic modelling, economic assessments and management strategies. One way of learning about others experience is through case studies, continuously being added to the list.

Coastal wiki article related to tools and methodologies:

Ecosystem services
Geographical Information System
Use of Lidar for coastal habitat mapping

New research issues

  1. Relationship between ecosystem function and the provision of services.
  2. Identification of ecosystem functions (relationship with biodiversity); quantification of ecosystem services; environmental limits of acceptable change (e.g. biodiversity loss)
  3. Impact of environmental change on ecosystem services: overexploitation of resources; land use change and habitat fragmentation; climate change; pollution; invasive species
  4. Restoration technologies for ecosystem services

External link

Ecosystem-based Management Tools

Members of the ENCORA theme group on Ecomorphology and habitat restoration

Name Institute email
Karen Edelvang Coordination Institute:

DHI Water Environment Health.

Denmark (DANCORE)
Ulrik Lumborg DHI Water Environment Health.

Denmark (DANCORE)
Alex Midlen COASTNET.

England (CoZone)
Magdalena A. K. Muir IEELS (International Energy, Environmental and Legal Services Ltd. IEELS

England (CoZone)
Marta Ronowicz Polish Academy of Science, Institute of Oceanology IOPAN.

Poland (INET)
Job Dronkers RWS National Institute for Coastal and Marine Management RIKZ-RWS.

The Netherlands (NCK)
Mindert de Vries WL/Delft Hydraulics.

The Netherlands (NCK)
Jean-Paul Ducrotoy

group leader

University of Hull.[1] RFRC
Miltiadis Seferlis Greek Biotope/Wetland Centre EKBY. Greece (HENCORE)

The main author of this article is Edelvang, Karen
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.

Citation: Edelvang, Karen (2021): Ecomorphology and habitat restoration: introduction. Available from [accessed on 3-02-2023]