In the last decade of the last century, especially in the context of raising awareness of the increased pressures on the coastal zone due to a possibly accelerating climate change, management strategies to deal with coastal erosion were broadly divided into three categories (see Fig. 10.1):
Retreat do nothing and accept retreat and possibly flooding (as it has been going on during the subsequent deglaciation periods since the earth came into existence).
Accommodate adapt coastal infrastructure to resist the increased risk of erosion and flooding.
Protect take protective measures to counteract erosion and flooding.
The management strategy ‘retreat’ may be applied for situations with strong coastline fluctuations without a clear long-term trend, or in situations where postponement of measures leads to more simple solutions in the future, because of the fact that erosion rates decrease as a function of time.
The chosen strategy as well as the chosen safety levels against flooding determine the methods to be used. Since we focus, in the present chapter, on protective measures to counteract erosion, we have implicitly assumed that the choice for protection as a management strategy has been made. Protecting the coast is not necessarily the most appropriate strategy in all situations. The appropriate management strategy is closely linked to both the level of vulnerability and the land use (infrastructure, living, recreation, agriculture etc.) and thus to the social, economic and cultural value of the coast and the amount of available money.