Design catalogue for eco-engineering of coastal artificial structures: a multifunctional approach for stakeholders and end-users

Kathryn A. O'Shaughnessy, Stephen J. Hawkins, Ally Evans, Mick E. Hanley, Paul Lunt, Richard C. Thompson, Robert A. Francis, Simon P. G. Hoggart, Pippa Moore, Gregorio Iglesias, David Simmonds, James Ducker, Louise B. Firth

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Coastal urbanisation, energy extraction, food production, shipping and transportation have led to the global proliferation of artificial structures within the coastal and marine environments (sensu “ocean sprawl”), with subsequent loss of natural habitats and biodiversity. To mitigate and compensate impacts of ocean sprawl, the practice of eco-engineering of artificial structures has been developed over the past decade. Eco-engineering aims to create sustainable ecosystems that integrate human society with the natural environment for the benefit of both. The science of eco-engineering has grown markedly, yet synthesis of research into a user-friendly and practitioner-focused format is lacking. Feedback from stakeholders has repeatedly stated that a “photo user guide” or “manual” covering the range of eco-engineering options available for artificial structures would be beneficial. However, a detailed and structured “user guide” for eco-engineering in coastal and marine environments is not yet possible; therefore we present an accessible review and catalogue of trialled eco-engineering options and a summary of guidance for a range of different structures tailored for stakeholders and end-users as the first step towards a structured manual. This work can thus serve as a potential template for future eco-engineering guides. Here we provide suggestions for potential eco-engineering designs to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and services of coastal artificial structures with the following structures covered: (1) rock revetment, breakwaters and groynes composed of armour stones or concrete units; (2) vertical and sloping seawalls; (3) over-water structures (i.e., piers) and associated support structures; and (4) tidal river walls
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-443
Number of pages13
JournalUrban Ecosystems
Issue number2
Early online date28 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2020


  • Biodiversity
  • Coastal management
  • Ecological engineering
  • Green infrastructure
  • Nature-based solutions
  • Ocean sprawl


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