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The need to work with natural processes

Management responses to sea-level rise (e.g. more coast protection) may have significant knock-on effects for the natural heritage (e.g. reduced sediment supply to maintain beaches, machair and saltmarshes), notwithstanding the advocacy of 'soft engineering' solutions.

From a land-use and management point of view, it will be important to protect soil carbon stocks in peat and other organic soils against accelerated losses to the atmosphere and drainage systems. Knowledge of soils and soil processes and how they respond to climate change will be fundamental to work on management and restoration of wildlife habitats.

As part of sustainable flood management, it will be very important to work with natural processes, by creating room for rivers, floodplain restoration and coastal realignment. Soft engineering techniques involving minimal intervention are preferable, where possible, to maximise nature conservation outcomes (e.g. restoring coastal habitat such as saltmarsh or mudflats) and reduce flood risk. However, this will require sediment supply to be maintained from 'sacrificial' areas.

There is likely to be acute demand for this interchange if recent projections of the rate of sea-level rise are realised - some habitats may need to be sacrificed to maintain others. The reality, in terms of understanding the natural processes and the politics of such approaches, will be complex.

Last updated on Friday 26th February 2016 at 11:43 AM. Click here to comment on this page