29 Mar 2022
29 Mar 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Invited perspectives: Nature-based solutions to mitigate coastal flood risks – Optimizing success through knowledge co-production

Mark Schuerch1, Hannah Mossman2, and Harriet Moore1 Mark Schuerch et al.
  • 1Department Geography, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, LN6 7TS, United Kingdom
  • 2Department of Natural Science, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, M15 6BH, United Kingdom

Abstract. Nature-based solutions are increasingly suggested for mitigating coastal flood risks in the face of climate change. Managed realignment (MR), a coastal adaptation strategy that entails the landward realignment of coastal defences to restore coastal habitats (often saltmarshes), plays a pivotal role in implementing nature-based solutions in the coastal zone. Across Europe, more than 130 sites have been implemented so far, often to harness their potential to mitigate coastal flood risks while restoring coastal habitats ( However, local communities often oppose MR projects, not only because they are seen as returning hard-won land to the sea but also because their coastal protection function is less trusted than traditional hard engineering techniques. This scepticism has foundation. The proclaimed coastal protection function of MRs is based on a broad body of literature on the protective function of natural saltmarshes. However, contrary to natural saltmarshes, MRs are often semi-enclosed tidal basins with narrow breaches to the open sea/estuary. Recent studies indicate that MR-internal hydrodynamics may significantly reduce their coastal protection, depending on their engineering design. To successfully implement MR, a much-improved scientific knowledge base is needed, as well as a process for addressing community concerns and genuinely engaging stakeholders in decision-making beyond the usual obligatory consultancy approach. Here, we propose the co-production of scientific knowledge with local communities and stakeholders to optimize the success of coastal nature-based solutions and promote community acceptance.

Mark Schuerch et al.

Status: open (until 15 Jun 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2022-104', Anonymous Referee #1, 22 Apr 2022 reply

Mark Schuerch et al.

Mark Schuerch et al.


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Short summary
Nature-based solutions for coastal zones to adapt to sea-level rise are becoming increasingly popular amongst scientists and coastal managers. However, local communities often oppose these projects, partly because the scientific evidence for their efficiency is limited. Here, we propose a framework to work with local stakeholders and communities to define success variables of NBS projects and co-produce novel scientific knowledge on the projects’ efficiency to mitigate coastal flood risks.