Going with the flow

02 November 2012 | 11:59am | Fri

Going with the flow

Fitzwilliam Fellow Dr Iris Möller calls for new priorities in coastal management policy in October issue of Public Service Review.

Dr Möller is Deputy Director of the Cambridge Coastal Research Unit – which carries out fundamental research into coastal ecosystems, to enable sustainable management of coastline.

In the UK, population densities in areas at risk from flood and coastal erosion have never been higher. Globally, densities in coastal regions are rising faster than the general population – numbers living within 60 miles of the coast will have increased by 35% between 1995 and 2025. A key challenge of the 21st century is in managing coastal environments without sacrificing the economic or social benefits they bring us. Dr Möller argues that the majority of coastal management challenges facing UK communities today result from historical failures to recognise that coastal change is a form of natural resilience that cannot be fought against – and that there is a need to restore a natural coastal ‘buffer’ zone, free from permanent human occupation:

Iris MollerIris Möller said: “We now understand the intrinsic dynamic nature of the coastal zone better than ever before. This dynamism must be preserved if we are to preserve the coast’s natural resilience to environmental change. Over the past decade, much progress has been made in channelling resources towards the better monitoring and understanding of coastal change, but resources are still small, given the urgency of this issue.”

Of the £2.17bn the government is expecting to spend on flooding and coastal erosion over the next four years, about £200m will be spent on research in fields such as coastal sediment systems, biodiversity and ecosystem services sustainability, and flood risk from extreme events.

Dr Möller said: “A clear mismatch exists between funding for local capital flood and erosion risk reduction projects, and funding for improved understanding of coastal dynamics. If we are to adopt truly economically (ecologically and socially) sustainable coastal management practices without escalating costs into the future, the government must continue to address this mismatch.”

Dr Iris Möller is Director of Studies in Geography at Fitzwilliam College.

Read the full article in Public Service Review: Europe: issue 24 online »

Read about studying Geography at Fitzwilliam »