PROJECT 5.9: Natural habitats for coastal protection and carbon sequestration – Phase 2 of the National Centre for Coasts and Climate
Natural, created or restored habitats such as oyster reefs, mangroves and saltmarshes have the potential to provide coastal protection as well as enhance biodiversity and other ecosystem services, including food provision and improved water quality. These ‘living shorelines’ also have the potential to play an important role in climate mitigation and adaptation due to their ability to sequester carbon and reduce the threats of coastal erosion and flooding. However, many of these habitats have been lost or degraded throughout Australia. While restoration is a clear national priority for biodiversity conservation, there are still key uncertainties regarding the use of natural habitats for coastal protection and carbon sequestration.
Through the National Centre for Coasts and Climate (NCCC) we’ve conducted research into blue carbon, coastal erosion and eco-engineering to:
- develop a standard method for assessing changes in carbon stocks due to coastal ecosystem management activities
- develop an ecological and geomorphological index of dune resilience to coastal erosion, and
- assess the effectiveness of a hybrid living shoreline approach for habitat restoration and coastal protection.
In collaboration with key stakeholders, such as state and local governments and conservation groups, this research has been synthesised into a national guide for coastal habitat restoration and eco-engineering to inform on-ground coastal management actions.
For more information
Prof. Stephen Swearer, University of Melbourne
- The National Centre for Coasts and Climate: establishment and key research outcomes – provides a summary for recent research outcomes under the National Centre for Coasts and Climate under the ESCC Hub on how blue carbon ecosystems, coastal erosions and ecological engineering solutions to enhance the capacity of coastal ecosystems to adapt to climate change.
- The Australian guide to nature-based methods for reducing risk from coastal hazards – these guidelines aim to translate global and Australian research into a practical tool that can be used to support decisions by coastal practitioners to use nature-based methods.
- Eco-engineering and restoration of coastal habitats in Australia – synthesises the latest understanding of nature-based coastal defence, including how nature-based solutions can deliver more sustainable and adaptive methods to protect the coast.
- Coastal erosion under a changing climate – ESCC Hub and NCCC researchers are improving the understanding of the underlying drivers of coastal erosion which will lead to improved predictions of future erosion.
- Climate change and blue carbon in Australia – ESCC Hub and NCCC researchers have developed methods to reduce uncertainty in determining blue carbon accumulation rates, which will support the inclusion of blue carbon ecosystems in emission trading schemes.
- Understanding coastal erosion on beaches: A guide for managers, policy makers and citizen scientists – Hub researchers, through the National Centre for Coasts and Climate, have developed an introductory guide to the dynamics of beach erosion and the impacts of beach movement on human infrastructure.
Publications and papers:
- Morris RL, Bishop MJ, Boon P, Browne NK, Carley JT, Fest BJ, Fraser MW, Ghisalberti M, Kendrick GA, Konlechner TM, Lovelock CE, Lowe RJ, Rogers AA, Simpson V, Strain EMA, Van Rooijen AA, Waters E, Swearer SE. (2021) The Australian Guide to Nature-Based Methods for Reducing Risk from Coastal Hazards. Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub Report No. 26. NESP Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub, Australia | Full report
- Konlechner TM, et al. 2020. Mapping spatial variability in shoreline change hotspots from satellite data; a case study in southeast Australia. Estuarine Coastal And Shelf Science, doi: 10.1016/j.ecss.2020.107018 | Full paper
- Morris RL, Boxshall A, and Swearer SE. 2020. Climate-resilient coasts require diverse defence solutions. Nature Climate Change, 10, 485–487, doi:10.1038/s41558-020-0798-9 | Full paper
- Morris RL, Hale R, Strain EMA, Reeves SE, Vergés A, Marzinelli EM, Layton C, Shelamoff V, Graham TDJ, Chevalier M, Swearer SE. 2020. Key Principles for Managing Recovery of Kelp Forests through Restoration, BioScience, biaa058 doi: 10.1093/biosci/biaa058 | Full paper
- Morris RL, Graham TDJ, Kelvin J, Ghisalberti M, Swearer SS. 2020. Kelp beds as coastal protection: wave attenuation of Ecklonia radiata in a shallow coastal bay, Annals of Botany, Volume 125 (2), 235–246, doi:10.1093/aob/mcz127 | Full paper
- O’Connor, JJ, Fest, BJ, Sievers, M, Swearer, SE. 2020. Impacts of land management practices on blue carbon stocks and greenhouse gas fluxes in coastal ecosystems—A meta‐analysis, Global Change Biology, 1– 13, doi:10.1111/gcb.14946 | Pre-print version. An edited version of this paper was published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Copyright 2019 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. | Abstract
This project is contributing to the following climate challenges:
This project establishes a means to engage directly with coastal managers and develop useful information and tools they can use in their work. Our research into blue carbon and coastal erosion will inform management practices and adaptation activities.
Our investigation of blue carbon (carbon stored in marine and coastal habitats) will reduce uncertainty in regional carbon accumulation rate estimates and improve our understanding of the impact of coastal vegetation on the carbon cycle.