“Soft options” refer to non-structural methods of managing coastal erosion and other coastal hazards. These options are often more environmentally friendly and sustainable than “hard options,” which involve the construction of physical structures like seawalls, groynes, or revetments.
Soft options include:
- Beach Nourishment: This involves the addition of large quantities of sand or sediment to the beach system. The aim is to increase the width and height of the beach, providing a larger buffer against wave action and erosion. This method can be quite effective but may need to be repeated periodically as the added material is eroded away.
- Dune Restoration: Dunes act as a natural barrier against wave action and can be restored or enhanced through the planting of vegetation to stabilize the sand, and the installation of fencing or other structures to prevent human trampling.
- Managed Retreat: This involves the deliberate moving back of the line of human development to allow the shoreline to move naturally. This can be a very effective long-term solution, but it can be controversial as it often involves the loss of private property or public amenities.
- Land Use Planning: This involves the careful planning of development in coastal areas to minimize the risk of damage from coastal hazards. This can include measures such as zoning laws that restrict development in high-risk areas, and building codes that require structures to be built to withstand coastal hazards.
- Education and Awareness Programs: These programs aim to increase public understanding of coastal processes and the risks associated with living in coastal areas. This can lead to more informed decision-making by individuals and communities about how to manage their own risk.
- Ecosystem Restoration: This involves the restoration or enhancement of natural coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves, coral reefs, and seagrass beds, which can provide a natural form of coastal protection.
These soft options often work best in combination and need to be tailored to the specific characteristics of the local coastal environment and community. They also require ongoing management and adaptation in response to changing conditions and knowledge.