Maintaining tropical beaches with seagrass and algae: a promising alternative to engineering solutions

James et al. (2019) Bioscience

Erosion of tropical beaches, exacerbated by climate change and coastal development, is resulting in coastal flooding, loss of income from tourism, and loss of habitat for wildlife across the globe. In this study, the authors determined the long term effectiveness of natural vegetation in stabilizing the foreshore and attenuating wave velocity, combining data from field flume experiments with information from the literature. They demonstrate that sediment stabilization by seagrass in combination with sediment-producing calcifying algae in the foreshore forms an effective mechanism for preventing erosion. The dominant management approaches, such as hard infrastructure and sand nourishment, were found to be short term solutions that undermine a beach’s resilience and often disrupt natural sediment transport. Direct article link.