Greening of grey infrastructure should not be used as a Trojan horse to facilitate coastal development.

Published online
22 Nov 2020
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Firth, L. B. & Airoldi, L. & Bulleri, F. & Challinor, S. & Chee SuYin & Evans, A. J. & Hanley, M. E. & Knights, A. M. & O'Shaughnessy, K. & Thompson, R. C. & Hawkins, S. J.
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Climate change and coastal urbanization are driving the replacement of natural habitats with artificial structures and reclaimed land globally. These novel habitats are often poor surrogates for natural habitats. The application of integrated greening of grey infrastructure (IGGI) to artificial shorelines demonstrates how multifunctional structures can provide biodiversity benefits whilst simultaneously serving their primary engineering function. IGGI is being embraced globally, despite many knowledge gaps and limitations. It is a management tool to compensate anthropogenic impacts as part of the Mitigation Hierarchy. There is considerable scope for misuse and 'greenwashing' however, by making new developments appear more acceptable, thus facilitating the regulatory process. We encourage researchers to exercise caution when reporting on small-scale experimental trials. We advocate that greater attention is paid to when experiments 'fail' or yield unintended outcomes. We advise revisiting, repeating and expanding on experiments to test responses over broader spatio-temporal scales to improve the evidence base.

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