Do habitat compensation schemes to offset losses from sea level rise and coastal squeeze represent a robust climate change adaptation response?

Iain Brown (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)
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    Abstract

    Habitat compensation schemes aim to offset unavoidable development-related losses at one site with replacement habitat elsewhere. They have become prominent policy tools used to address coastal squeeze of intertidal habitats occurring from sea-level rise and ‘hold-the-line’ management approaches. This policy development is evaluated against scientific evidence and its broader ethical dimensions regarding conservation of the natural environment. A case study is provided from the UK (England) where the National Habitat Compensation Programme aims to continue conservation obligations consistent with the EU Habitats Directive and Natura 2000. Progress is also referenced against Shoreline Management Plans and aspirations for a greater proportion of the coast to shift to managed realignment in response to sea level rise. Important barriers are identified, and issues of monitoring, transparency, and robustness are highlighted regarding habitat compensation and general coastal policy. At present, habitat compensation is based upon a simple area-based balance sheet approach which overlooks key uncertainties and gives a misleading indication of progress. Climate change adaptation planning needs to include more flexibility based upon alternative scenarios and response pathways, especially regarding recent evidence for higher future sea-level rises. Robust responses also require more emphasis on improved interpretation of ecological functioning, integrity, and coherence, as essential concepts to facilitate ecosystem-based adaptation consistent with international conventions and application of the precautionary principle.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number106072
    Number of pages11
    JournalOcean and Coastal Management
    Volume219
    Early online date7 Feb 2022
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2022

    Keywords

    • Climate Change Adaptation
    • Coastal squeeze
    • Habitat compensation
    • Habitats Directive
    • Management Plans
    • UK Shoreline

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