Understand and acting on coastal change along heritage coasts

18:00 Tuesday 28 May




Sally Brown (United Kingdom) 1; Phil Dyke (United Kingdom) 2; Helen Mann (United Kingdom) 2

1 - Bournemouth and Southampton University; 2 - National Trust

Owning 10% (approximately 1,247 km) of the coastline in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the National Trust, a UK charity who cares for national heritage and nature in perpetuity, aims to allow heritage coasts to be kept special for ever, for everyone. Part of their role is to understand the science of coastal change, and to develop internal policies and practices to allow the coast to remain accessible to all. In a changing world, with a range of expectations from their 26.6 million visitors a year, this presents challenges.

This poster presents findings from a UK research council funded Innovation Placement, which allows a university-based scientist to spend six months in an external organisation with the aim of better integrating science into their business and to generate real-world impact from research. This poster discusses: (i) an overview of the results achieved to better understand coastal change, including how shoreline management policies are changing in response to climate change and other drivers; (ii) the benefits of integrating science and generating impact on the science-policy-practice interface.

By analysing land exposed to flooding and potential erosion rates along National Trust heritage coasts in England and Wales, this study found that:

  • 2.7% of National Trust land is susceptible to coastal/tidal flooding (up to the 1:1000 year event), which is in contrast to the national average of approximately 4.6%;
  • Following Shoreline Management Plans, the greatest mean erosion rates for the present and future management epochs are projected for the London and South East (due to soft, erodible Chalk cliffs) and the North of England (due to the dune frontage) regions;
  • 80km of National Trust land is under the management policy of hold the line, but due to changing management policies this is projected to reduce to 66km in 45-95 years’ time.

As the National Trust are a unique stakeholder in the coast, they have vested interest that spans generations. The Trust’s Shifting Shore programme, now in its 13th year, advocates working with natural processes to adapt to coastal change, so that problems are not stored up for the future. Adapting to coastal change, including the impacts of sea-level rise, is challenging as there are multiple stakeholder views which demonstrate that National Trust members are extremely passionate about their coast. The benefits of this placement have enabled greater science and understanding at different levels, and to take a more holistic view of living with a changing coast.