CoastWEB: Valuing the contribution which COASTal habitats make to human health and WEllBeing, with a focus on the alleviation of natural hazards

Collaborators: Plymouth Marine Laboratory (project lead); Middlesex University; Swansea University; Bangor University; Cardiff University, University of Cambridge.

  • Awarded to: Professor Brett Day
  • Funding Awarded to Exeter: £42,920 (total funding of £1,077,208)
  • Dates: 1 August 2016 - 31 July 2019
  • Sponsor(s): NERC

Despite increasing recognition of connections between natural environment and human health and wellbeing, these links are still poorly understood. There is a real need to develop methodological approaches to fully elucidate natural environments for health and wellbeing. To address this need the CoastWEB project aims to holistically value the contribution which coastal habitats make to human health and wellbeing, with a focus on the alleviation of coastal natural hazards and extreme events. The research is ambitious in its interdisciplinary scope, including art, social and environmental psychology, environmental economics, governance, policy, a suite of natural sciences, and non-academic stakeholders. It also covers a range of scales from local Welsh case study sites to UK national. We are proposing a circular 4 step process:

1. The proposed research begins with the definition of a set of "real world" future interventions for Welsh salt marsh ecosystems, with a particular focus on coastal defence, and set within a broader national policy context. It is critical that the outputs of this research are useful to end users, and not just academic, as such the definition of these options will be made in close collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders.

2. The impact of these interventions on saltmarsh coastal defence capacity will then be explored using natural science and modelling techniques, improving our understanding of the key ecosystem processes and attributes which influence this capacity. The impact on other ecosystem services will also be documented using existing literature. A key output of this step will be the production of Wales-wide maps of changes in salt marsh coastal defence services, under differing interventions.

3. The impact of these changes in coastal defence, and broader ecosystem service delivery, will be linked to changes in human health and wellbeing at both a local community and national scale. The local wellbeing impacts will be explored through the application of qualitative dialogue based techniques, whereas the national scale impacts will be explored through quantitative (monetary and non-monetary) survey techniques.

4. Through mapping and workshops, using both an interactive artistic approach (local) and the established modelling platform, TIM (national), the health and wellbeing results will then feed directly back into the stakeholder base and the management of the salt marsh, as they will provide a unique insight into the broader health and wellbeing aspects of salt marshes, under the future interventions proposed in step 1.

The mixed methods approach proposed will provide a greater understanding examining health and wellbeing in different ways, enabling our ability to handle different understandings and interpretations of value. However, the aim is not to use different disciplines to translate for each other, or to combine results into one metric, but rather to embrace the differences in the approaches and outputs and to explore how they can complement each other. Using these complementary approaches and scales is beneficial in providing managers with a diverse array of information for making decisions.


Project Team:

  • Dr Nicola Beaumont, Plymouth Marine Laboratory (project lead)
  • Dr Tobias Borger, Plymouth Marine Laboratory
  • Dr Kayleigh Wyles, Plymouth Marine Laboratory
  • Mr Simon Arthur Read, Middlesex University 
  • Professor Brett Day University of Exeter 
  • Dr John Griffin, Swansea University  
  • Dr Gamage Karunarathna, Swansea University 
  • Co-Investigator Dr Martin Skov, Bangor University 
  • Professor Karen Henwood, Cardiff University 
  • Professor Nicholas Pidgeon, Cardiff University 
  • Dr Rhoda Ballinger, Cardiff University
  • Dr Iris Möller, University of Cambridge 

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