Ecosystem based measures seek to restore or maintain the naturalness of the coastal area, the river system, or the catchment.

EXAMPLE: Reconnecting lakes to the Yangtze River (CHN)

The 6,300 km long Yangtze River in China was facing a reduction of wetlands areas and flood retention capacity. In 2002, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) initiated a programme to reconnect lakes in Hubei
Province to the Yangtze River through opening the sluice gates and facilitating sustainable lake
management. These wetlands can store floodwaters and therefore reducing vulnerability to flooding in the central Yangtze region.

EXAMPLE: Constructed wetlands to compensate for urbanization in souther Finland (FIN)

In Finland urban wetlands are being implemented to help improve water quality, absorb storm water volume and flow control, and improve the land-water habitats for urban communities. The wetlands are designed to respond to the needs and negative impacts of urbanization and therefore, public acceptance and multifunctional benefits are central to the design and implementation of the wetlands. The acceptance and understanding of the importance of urban dwellers is important and thus the project sought to demonstrate several benefits of functional wetlands.

EXAMPLE: Restoring Riparian Forests (BG)

Floodplain or riparian forests can be extremely important for the prevention of floods and landslides. Floodplain forests used to be widespread in Bulgaria, but today they are only partially preserved. WWF, in partnership with local Bulgarian partners began a project for restoration and conservation of natural riparian forests of native species along the rivers Danube and Maritsa.

EXAMPLE: Wallasea Island Wild Coast project (UK)

The aim of the Wallasea Island Wild Coast project is to recreate a natural intertidal coastal marshland to combat the threat of climate-induced coastal flooding. The recreated mudflats, salt and brackish marshes, saline lagoons, and pastures will provide a range of habitats for coastal birds and other wildlife on the Essex coast.

EXAMPLE: Titchwell Marsh (UK) seawalls and managed realignment

Located on England’s North Norfolk coast, the Titchwell Marsh is a key piece of the North Norfolk Coast Special Protection Area (SPA) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC). This coastal wetland ecosystem includes freshwater and brackish habitats and is currently protected from the erosive power of waves by seawalls which are becoming increasingly weakened.

The Titchwell Marsh Coastal Change Project aims to protect vital freshwater habitats from both coastal erosion and sea level rise through managed realignment and seawall reinforcement, and mitigate and compensate for the loss of important brackish habitats.

EXAMPLE: Dune rehabilitation in Praia de Faro (PT)

A construction of an elevated wooden pathway alongshore and cross-shore of about 1500 m, and the construction of a dune fences were implemented in the coastal town of Praia de Faro (Portugal). The fences helped to trap sand in the dune areas leading to a growth of the dune system. The wooden path played also an important role in the dune recovery.

Protecting and restoring reefs (coral and oyster)

Coral and oyster reefs are considered to be types of coastal wetlands. As a natural coastal defense they are a buffer for coastlines against waves. Reefs are threatened by rapid environmental change, making it very important to protect and restore reefs.

EXAMPLE: Foreshore sand replenishment (DK)

The case study shows how sand replenishment at the west coast of Denmark has become the main measure to face coastal erosion. Experiences in the last years showed, that replenishments at the foreshore seem to be the most effective and ecosystem friendly version of beach nourishments.

Marsh vegetation in intertidal and coastal zone

Saltmarsh and mudflats are usually located together with mudflats in front of the saltmarsh. Saltmarsh vegetation and saltmarsh creeks help manage floods by dissipating wave and tidal energy.  They are valuable barriers to the risks of flood, as they dissapte wave and tidal energy. Saltmarshes used in combination with other measures can have beneficial outcomes to managing climate change impacts. Even a small width of fronting saltmarsh can significantly reduce the height of sea walls required to achieve the same level of protection and thus also reduce initial construction costs. Having saltmarsh fronting will also significantly reduce maintenance costs due to the reduced exposure to wave and tidal energy.

Riparian buffers

Riparian buffers are vegetated, often forested, areas (“strips”) adjacent to streams, rivers, lakes and other waterways protecting aquatic environments from the impacts of surrounding land use (Enanga et al. 2010). Use of riparian buffers to maintain water quality in streams and rivers is considered to be a best forest and conservation management practice in many countries and is mandatory in some areas.

Wetland restoration

Wetland restoration can serve to reduce coastal flooding and erosion. It has also additional benefits like provide new habitats or improve the landscape for recreational purposes. Wetland restoration relates to the rehabilitation of previously existing wetland functions from a more impaired to a less impaired or unimpaired state of overall function.

Reafforestation in upland areas and buffer zones

Reafforestation and afforestation refer to to activities where trees are established on lands with no forest cover. The concept of reafforestation is usually used in reference to areas where there was recent forest cover. Reafforestation and afforestation activities, as well as existing forests, can help to reduce the occurrence and intensity of floods.

Flood storage systems

If fluvial systems don't have sufficient room for natural detention of floodwater in the floodplain, the development and management of flood storage within and adjacent to the natural floodplain is recommended and described in more detail in this measure. It addresses aspects like the process of selecting where to locate the flood storage, deciding how much storage is needed, how to measure the storage capacity, selecting appropriate flow control structures, analysing how the works will perform and making sure that the flood storage scheme is safe in extreme floods.

Dune strengthening, rehabilitation and restoration

Sand dunes are wind forms elements on sandy coasts and represent a natural coastal protection measure. Natural processes like erosion and human interference (like coastal protection measures, changing coastal processes, tourism) can have a negative impact on dunes. Rehabilitation with feeding sand or planting vegetation can reinforce the dunes.

Adaptive management

Highly dynamic coastal systems (like sandy beaches, dunes or estuaries) might be best managed by not interfering with the natural processes, but instead accepting that change will occur and adapting backshore management accordingly. Key in this approach is a proper monitoring of the processes to analyze and evaluate the changes (for examples at eroding cliffs or dunes). With a proper planning horizon, these changes can be anticipated and with enough room for the environment to involve this can be a very cost-extensive approach.

Beach Scraping

Beach scraping is recovering material from the berm at the foreshore and placing it on the backshore at the foot of the dunes or the cliff.