The IMECO project allows IHCantabria to acquire new knowledge for protecting the coast with nature-based solutions
This project will contribute to the introduction of nature-based solutions into climate change adaptation strategies in coastal areas. To this end, it aims to provide new knowledge and tools that are suitable for designing and promoting this type of solution.
The Institute of Environmental Hydraulics of the University of Cantabria (IHCantabria, by its acronym in Spanish) supports the implementation of nature-based solutions (NBS) by seeking strategies for adaptation to climate change in coastal areas. One of the projects that demonstrates this is IMECO (towards the IMplementation of Ecosystem-based solutions as Coastal adaptation measures), which is part of the Marine Science Program and is being implemented until mid-2025.
María Maza Fernández, who is the principal investigator of this project, considers it urgent to adopt climate change adaptation measures that are resilient and sustainable, such as NBS, which “can play an important role in coastal protection against climate risks, representing, in turn, sustainable adaptation measures”. In her opinion, NBS are actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems, which provide benefits for soil and water conservation and restoration, among other advantages. “However, there is still a lack of a planning and design framework, as well as predictive tools, that would enable the implementation of such solutions to be carried out efficiently.” The IMECO project is being developed at IHCantabria to address these shortcomings.
This project will advance two main lines of research. On the one hand, it is intended to cover the main knowledge gaps in the characterization of the interaction of flow with coastal ecosystems, to give rise to new predictive tools at different scales; on the other hand, it is planned to lay the necessary foundations to define a planning and design framework that allows the implementation of this type of solutions, considering not only their protection service, but also other associated benefits. Thus, IMECO’s main objective is to advance in the acquisition of knowledge in these two main lines. To achieve this, the following specific objectives are contemplated: to develop new formulations that allow obtaining the protection service in a predictive manner; to analyze and characterize the interaction of coastal ecosystems with extreme climate events and evaluate the survival of the ecosystem and its failure modes; to develop predictive tools that allow evaluating the protection service; to analyze the variation of the protection service, considering different spatial and temporal scales; to develop a guide for the application and design of nature-based and hybrid solutions.
One of the results of IMECO will be the development of tools applicable to coastal and intertidal zones, to estimate the coastal protection service offered by different types of NBS; for this purpose, different spatial and temporal scales will be taken into account. Another result will be the development of a methodological guide for the planning, design, implementation and monitoring of NBS and other hybrid solutions.
With these results, the aim is to “contribute to the introduction of BNS in climate change adaptation strategies on the coast, through the generation of new knowledge that allows understanding how they work and through the generation of new tools that are suitable for designing and valuing this type of solutions”, according to María Maza.
She and her team at IHCantabria are confident that the impact of the IMECO project will be positive, because the advance in detailed physical processes (such as flow-ecosystem interaction processes under wave-current and extreme conditions) will generate great interest in the growing scientific community working on the subject. In addition, “the development of predictive tools and implementation methodologies will generate great interest in the more technical community, which seeks to be able to carry out NBS implementation efficiently and reliably,” says Maza.