Paganelli, D., La Valle, P., Ercole, S., Teofili, C., and Nicoletti, L., 2013. Assessing the impact of coastal defense structures on habitat types and species of European interest: a methodological approach
Mediterranean coastal zones generally present high environmental value and high biodiversity, and are characterized by the presence of a large amount of protected environments and species of European interest. The Mediterranean coastal environments are extremely sensitive and vulnerable transitional zone and they are strongly influenced by human activities (industries, tourism, shipping, fisheries and aquaculture/agriculture activities etc.), which affect the natural evolution of this complex system. The available literature also reports that about 15,100 km of European coastline is undergoing retreat. Within this context, ISPRA has developed a specific methodology aimed at evaluating the potential impacts of coastal defense structures on protected habitat types and on the related flora and fauna species. This approach was developed and shared within the framework of the Component 5 of the COASTANCE Project entitled “Guidelines for Environmental Impacts Studies focused on coastal protection works and plans”. The methodological approach proposed is subdivided into the following steps: 1) identification of the main coastal defense structures and their main potential environmental impacts; 2) identification and classification of the marine-coastal habitat types sensu Habitats Directive; 3) definition of the criteria required to associate the protected flora and fauna species with the different physiographic categories; 4) creation of the “impact vs habitats and species” matrix-system. The proposed methodology is a multi-disciplinary tool that can be used for both submerged and emerged environments. Its main advantage consists in enabling an a priori identification, on a single chart, of the main expected impacts induced by coastal defense structures on the protected environments. In this paper, we present the methodological approach developed in order to create the “impact vs habitats and species” matrix-system, with specific reference to the potential impacts expected on habitats and species of European interest.