European Action Plan Theme Ecomorphology and habitat restoration

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This article is meant as documentation for ENCORA European action plan on Ecomorphology and habitat restoration. It includes the overall the theme rational and objectives. The document also includes an identification of the identified knowledge gaps as discussed during the Paris conference on European Coastal Action Plan (2007).

Theme workshop conclusion

  • The impacts of Climate Change on the European Marine and Coastal Environment specifically in relation to coastal habitats is to a certain extend established. It is however an ongoing task to combine the existing knowledge with new and especially to address the pace at which changes undergo
  • New and old species in the coastal zone are important with respect to the role of habitat-forming flora and fauna on sedimentation, erosion and ecosystem functioning.

Key words: anthropogenic factors, biota, physical processes, biodiversity, management, invasive species, coastal morphology, impacts

  • Public awareness is an important issue for the future management and use of the coastal zone. Increased awareness and understanding will make the coastal habitats gain from involving the public in processes related to use of the coastal zone
  • Eutrophication and its impact on coastal habitats is an issue that needs continuous addressing in order to understand and meet the consequences

Measures of sustainability in an ENCORA perspective attempt to describe the negative impacts between human activities or interventions, ecology and the coastal environment. Measures vary between disciplines: for example, those used in economics may be quite different from others used in areas such as biology and engineering. For biology, which is the most important aspect with regard to coastal habitats, several useful measures have been developed by researchers, and the simpler measures are then often combined into composite measures which attempt to more fully assess the sustainability of the system. The various topics within the theme Ecomorphology and habitat restoration may have different measures depending on the specific content. Sustainable development is a goal for most habitats, because it ensures the system services to be available at the same time securing the state of the specific environment.

The Paris workshop gave the conclusions listed above in this section. In summary, they conclude that the impacts of Climate Change on the European Marine and Coastal Environment specifically needs to be addressed with regard to the pace at which changes undergo. In this context, new and old species in the coastal zone are important with respect to the role of habitat-forming flora and fauna on sedimentation, erosion and ecosystem functioning. One of the key challenges is rising the public awareness Increased awareness and understanding will make the coastal habitats gain from involving the public in processes related to use of the coastal zone

Synthesis of the workshop recommendation for the European Action Plan

TITLE Coastal habitats: response to and recovery from environmental change
WHY Management of coastal habitats require tools and methodologies for forecasting their response to environmental changes including sediment management, pollution and climate change.
WHAT Development of management options addressing sustainability, recovery and restoration of coastal habitats to environmental perturbation
HOW Identify and quantify processes and functions, incorporate these into models and develop scenarios of different spatial and temporal scales
TITLE Development of an operational European observatory network for monitoring and management of coastal systems
WHY Sustainable management requires a consistent and coherent database to be able to detect changes in coastal habitats. The database should consist of data collected at different temporal and spatial scales and possible gaps should be identified and filled.
WHAT Analyse and report trend indicators. Develop an alert system for early warning. Create a decision support system for coastal habitats.
HOW Set up a network of observatories across Europe to collect, share and interpret core data. Identify core data-sets essential for understanding the changes in coastal habitats with respect to natural and anthropogenic factors.


List of Participants

Alberto Lamberti University of Bologna
Alex Midlen CoastNet
Boris Chubarenko P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology Russian Academy of Scien.
Elizabeth Williams University of Southampton
Georgia Mavromati IUEHR-Panteion University
Harvey Tyler Walters Marine Biological Association
Jean-Paul Ducrotoy University of Hull - Inst. of Estuarine and Coastal Studies
John Widdows Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Karen Edelvang DHI Water Environment Health
Tycjan Wodzinowski Sea Fisheries Institute in Gydnia

Individual Contributions from the Paris workshop

TITLE Identification of invasive species in coastal habitats
WHY Growing problem in some areas e.g. the Wadden Sea
WHAT Identify the problem, monitor its abundance and look for counteraction or adaption strategies
HOW Monitor changes in abundance of specific species, seek information from similar locations
TITLE Understanding and forecasting the impact of climate change on biogeomorphology of estuaries
WHY Natural coastal defences (intertidal flats and saltmarshes) are under threat due to changes in climate (increased storminess) and sea level rise
WHAT Improved estuarine and coastal models capable of forecasting biogeomorphological change under different scenarios
HOW Identification and quantification of key hydro-bio-sedimentary processes and their incorporation into models of estuarine sediment dynamics and morphology. Also require long term monitoring of seasonal and interannual changes in sediment elevation for calibration and validation of models.
TITLE The restoration of damaged estuarine habitats as a strategy to respond to climate change.
WHY Polders and land claims have restricted and fragmented estuarine ecosystems all around Europe.
WHAT De-polderise and re-create estuarine habitats as part of a retreating strategy.
HOW Assess goods and services from estuaries. Model sea level rise and other changes. Elaborate a vision of estuary at 25 and 50 years ahead.
TITLE Monitoring of coastal zoon for costal fisheries and spawning grounds condition
WHY Ecological conditions in coastal areas have a significant impact on quality of fish spawning grounds and subsequently on fish recruitment
WHAT Monitoring and modeling of the biotic, abiotic and human impacts on fishes health and spawning grounds conditions
HOW Monitoring and collecting data on changes in abundance and condition of species, water and bottom condition, human activity, comparison of information from similar locations
TITLE Adaptation and Mitigation Policies for confronting climate change impacts on Coastal Waters
WHY Climate change is considered as one of the major contributors to the degradation of marine environment
WHAT Prevention of further degradation of marine environment and adoption of policies and measures to manage the impacts of climate change
HOW Establishment of an European monitoring system for key physicochemical and biological elements. Identifications and evaluation of the effects of human activities upon coastal ecosystems and biodiversity. Designing of effective policy instuments for the sustainable managment and use of the coastal waters
TITLE Coastal Sediment Budgets as tools to aid Coastal Management
WHY Through improved understanding of sediment change within systems such as estuaries, management can refocus on sediment management in order to sustain valuable coastal environments. For example, where dredging works remove sediment from an estuary this sediment could be recycled to recharge intertidal zones.
WHAT Identification and quantification of the historic changes of sources, sinks and stores within coastal systems and causes for these changes.
HOW Case study investigations in different sites along the European coast where data is available

TITLE Database of data and coastal monitoring projects along the European coast
WHY A database of data regarding coastal monitoring and work on the coastal zone would be a useful tool to aid projects investigating the coastal zone and highlight gaps in current knowledge and possible needs for future work
WHAT Identification of availability, location and dates of data, e.g. salt marsh erosion rate along the European coast, to aid coastal projects
HOW Online website where researchers and companies can log what and where data is available, what projects are being completed and contact details

TITLE From fundamentals of physics and bio-geo-chemistry towards sustainable management of European transitional waters regarding reality of climate change and society development
WHY Coastal areas of restricted exchange as morphological units containing transitional waters are the buffer zone between land and a sea. Cascade transport of water and matter from the watershed area faces the marine environment in transition waters. Vice versa, the energy flux from the open sea towards the shore is transformed into sediment transport and erosion within them. Transitioanal waters form an interface between human society and marine environment, they are first subject of synergy effect of natural (climate) changes and anthropogenic forcing.
WHAT Fundamentals of physical and bio-geochemical functioning, water-, nutrients-, sediment-, budgets, long and short-term forecasts, management plans, operational systems
HOW Field and laboratory studies, modelling