Human actions can contribute to degradation of coastal environments or they can increase the likelihood that these environments will be restored. Beach nourishment provides a basis for restoration, but ways must be found to add habitat improvement to projects designed for shore protection. This study examines how beach nourishment projects can help reinstate dune landscapes in locations where beaches and dunes had been replaced by static shore protection structures. Dune topography and vegetation on three nourished sites on the northern Adriatic Coast of Italy are compared to a reference site to evaluate changes after beach fill was emplaced. Results reveal how nourishment projects used for shore protection can restore the space available for dunes to form, increase the likelihood of sediment transfers inland and increase the diversity of topography and vegetation. Beach raking prevents formation and growth of hummocky, incipient backshore dunes that would otherwise evolve into a naturally functioning foredune. Sand-trapping fences can speed the process of foredune development but can be counterproductive if they interfere with transport to beach grass (Ammophila littoralis) planted landward of them. Shore protection structures can provide stability and more time for dune evolution on eroding shores, resulting in greater species richness and longer retention of ecological niches. These structures need not be required if re-nourishment occurs frequently enough to provide a beach wide enough to protect against storm wave uprush.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Global and Planetary Change
- Beach nourishment
- Coastal vegetation