Working with natural processes: the challenge for coastal protection strategies

Andrew Cooper, John McKenna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Citations (Scopus)


The concept of `working with natural processes' has wide currency in coastal zone management. It is one of eight principles for integrated coastal zone management listed in a recent EU Recommendation. From a geomorphological perspective, the concept, however, has a range of imparted meanings that range from (1) direct human intervention in coastal processes using `hard engineering' structures that causes alteration of wave patterns, through (2) a variety of `soft engineering' approaches to (3) non-intervention and proactively taking steps to enable the coastline to fluctuate freely in response to natural processes. These different views take variable temporal perspectives and only the long-term approach is likely to be sustainable and in sympathy with the meaning implied in the EU Recommendation. A number of case studies from Ireland are presented through which we show that several factors (administrative, legislative, societal and political) impede adoption of the principle in practical coastal management. Major changes in perception of `coastal protection' coupled with changes in attitudes to property will be required if this principle is to become an integral part of coastal protection strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-331
Issue numberPart 4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Dec 2008


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