Linking restoration ecology with coastal dune restoration

Debora Lithgow, Marisa Martínez, J Gallego-Fernández, Patrick Hesp, P Flores, S Gachuz, Natalia Rodríguez-Revelo, Oscar Jiménez-Orocio, G Mendoza-González, L Álvarez-Molina

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    65 Citations (Scopus)


    Restoration and preservation of coastal dunes is urgently needed because of the increasingly rapid loss and degradation of these ecosystems because of many human activities. These activities alter natural processes and coastal dynamics, eliminate topographic variability, fragment, degrade or eliminate habitats, reduce diversity and threaten endemic species. The actions of coastal dune restoration that are already taking place span contrasting activities that range from revegetating and stabilizing the mobile substrate, to removing plant cover and increasing substrate mobility. Our goal was to review how the relative progress of the actions of coastal dune restoration has been assessed, according to the ecosystem attributes outlined by the Society of Ecological Restoration: namely, integrity, health and sustainability and that are derived from the ecological theory of succession. We reviewed the peer reviewed literature published since 1988 that is listed in the ISI Web of Science journals as well as additional references, such as key books. We exclusively focused on large coastal dune systems (such as transgressive and parabolic dunefields) located on natural or seminatural coasts. We found 150 articles that included "coastal dune", "restoration" and "revegetation" in areas such as title, keywords and abstract. From these, 67 dealt specifically with coastal dune restoration. Most of the studies were performed in the USA, The Netherlands and South Africa, during the last two decades. Restoration success has been assessed directly and indirectly by measuring one or a few ecosystem variables. Some ecosystem attributes have been monitored more frequently (ecosystem integrity) than others (ecosystem health and sustainability). Finally, it is important to consider that ecological succession is a desirable approach in restoration actions. Natural dynamics and disturbances should be considered as part of the restored system, to improve ecosystem integrity, health and sustainability.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)214-224
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013


    • Destabilization
    • Ecosystem health
    • Ecosystem integrity
    • Ecosystem sustainability
    • Natural succession
    • Revegetation


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