Reducing flood risks is one of the most pressing challenges facing European coastal managers. Sea level rise, climate change and increasing coastal populations, intensify this challenge, demanding innovative approaches towards coastal management.
Vegetated foreshores naturally defend against coastal flooding and erosion. This means that conserving and restoring natural coastal ecosystems can play an important role in reducing flood risks, and is increasingly becoming a cost-effective flood defence solution.
However, to include this approach into flood risk management, we need to know more about how it works. For example, engineers would like to know the mechanisms by which vegetation reduces wave energy, how these processes 'scale up' from individual plants to large foreshores, and what is the best way to include this information in the design of flood defence schemes?
FAST is a multi-disciplinary project that aims to provide answers to these questions. Using a combination of remote sensing and field data from foreshores in four different EU countries (The Netherlands, UK, Romania and Spain), FAST will look at how specific characteristics of vegetated foreshores affect wave energy and erosion and develop novel ways to get the information needed from satellite images, so as to predict shoreline protection.
All this know-how will be developed, in close collaboration with end-users, into an easy-to use service (presently code named MI-SAFE). MI-SAFE will be a sustainable, long-term contribution to European flood risk management, allowing governmental agencies, industry consultants, NGOs and Citizens, to easily assess the potential of vegetated foreshores in reducing flood and erosion risks.