Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

How to maximize combined nature and coastal protection goals

Ongoing accelerated sea-level rise, increased storm frequency and altered sediment dynamics, threaten coastlines and estuarine ecosystems around the globe, imposing the need for new, cost effective defense schemes. At the same time, many coastal ecosystems are currently threatened and declining, imposing the need for nature conservation and restoration of coastal ecosystems. Restoration or creation of coastal ecosystems offers promising opportunities for building cost-effective coastal defense schemes that enhance nature goals. It is however unclear to which extent nature and defense goals are compatible or opposing.

We aim to unravel i) how to use intertidal ecosystems for coastal defense schemes, ii) how to maximize nature goals and iii) how to integrate both aspects. We study this for coastal vegetation as well as tidal flats with benthic communities. Our studies integrate different scales, by combining both the local-scale (i.e., within an ecosystem) and the landscape-scale (i.e., the connectivity between ecosystems and ecosystem compartments). We aim at developing fundamental insights into the physical and biological drivers and interactions that can be widely applied.

Within this research theme we offer several topics, each with the opportunity to tune it towards your specific interest. The possible topics will however strongly depend on the timing of the research.


For further information and to apply, please contact Prof. Dr. Tjeerd Bouma (