Arup supports Natural Resources Wales with launch of new guidance to improve coastal biodiversity

Laura Hulson Laura Hulson Senior Marketing Coordinator,Cardiff
28 July 2022

Arup has supported Welsh environmental body Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to develop new guidance aimed at improving coastal biodiversity.

The aim of the guidance note is to raise awareness on the topic of marine ecological enhancements but, more importantly, to promote their use more widely and to help practitioners, engineers, regulators and asset managers in the decision-making process.

Warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, and an increase in the frequency and severity of storm events associated with climate change mean it is more important than ever to protect people, homes and businesses from risks of coastal flooding and erosion.

Nature-based solutions have a powerful role to play in increasing our resilience to climate impacts while simultaneously supporting the regeneration of ecosystems.

The newly published guidance promotes ecological enhancements, which reintroduce some complexity to coastal structures to improve biodiversity. These enhancements can include creating microhabitats such as rock pools and textured surfaces on structures to help them to function more like natural reefs.

Arup’s multidisciplinary team of maritime engineers, ecologists and consultants worked with NRW staff, Welsh Government, Welsh Water and other stakeholders to identify and address drivers, barriers to overcome, and actions needed to support the wider use of ecological enhancements. The resulting guidance includes case studies, a 12-step approach, and a training toolkit for NRW staff and other practitioners working in the field.

Commenting on the importance of this type of work, Robin Campbell, NRW Framework Manager at Arup, said:

“Like all of us at Arup, we are committed to working with our clients to build a sustainable and resilient future. We support infrastructure owners respond to the challenges of climate change whilst making ecological issues ever more mainstream. Recent successes include two Welsh Government-funded coastal infrastructure projects which went on to secure planning consent without objection.

“By outlining the benefits and value-for-money case, as well as providing a step-by-step process, we hope that this robust, evidence-based guidance will help practitioners to use ecological enhancements more widely on both new and existing structures."

We are encouraged by a growing surge of interest in coastal ecological enhancements, predominantly fostered by legislative and environmental drivers, and growing evidence. This guidance note is a critical piece of work, raising awareness across the wider industry and supporting Natural Resources Wales’ purpose of sustainably managing natural resources. ” Robin Campbell NRW Framework Manager, Arup

Ceri Beynon-Davies, Senior Marine Advisor at NRW, said:

“One of the core themes of our Marine Area Statement is to raise awareness of and increase the uptake of nature-based solutions. In recent years there has been a growing evidence base on the use of solutions such as enhancement features which can help to provide biodiversity benefits in those areas where we will need to maintain coastal defences and assets to protect communities from the impacts of coastal flooding and climate change.

“There are positive results from recent trials and projects which is very promising. This area is still in its infancy in its uptake into projects more widely along the Welsh coast. We hope that this guidance note will act as an invaluable resource to address some of the evidence gaps and provide practitioners with a wealth of information to more confidently use ecological enhancement features going forward in their projects.”