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Building with nature for coastal resilience

This leaflet explains the concept of hybrid engineering as it relates to mangrove coasts. It provides a rationale for moving away from over-reliance on hard engineered structures, and moving towards working alongside and with nature for coastal resilience. The information contained in this leaflet can be used by policy makers and practitioners when considering options for coastal defence in tropical coastal regions.


In tropical coastal areas, large tracts of mangrove forest have been cleared to make room for aquaculture ponds, urban settlements and other land uses. The resulting coastal erosion, saltwater intrusion and increased vulnerability to flooding from storm surges increase the exposure of people and their livelihoods to natural and man-made hazards.

In order to address this problem, coastal managers tend to turn to ‘hard’ engineered structures - such as dykes and breakwaters. However, such structures are often expensive and inflexible, and may fail to provide adequate protection to people and property. Sometimes these structures become counterproductive,  exacerbating the problem they were supposed to solve.

Hybrid engineering is an innovative concept that seeks to work with nature rather than against it. It combines engineering techniques with natural processes and resources, resulting in dynamic solutions that are better able to adapt to changing circumstances. Moreover, hybrid structures can provide a variety of ecosystem services in addition to coastal protection, like provision of food and climate regulation.

The leaflet is also available in Spanish and Bahasa Indonesia.

Related Project(s):
Developing a Practical Guide on Coastal Mangrove Rehabilitation, Building with Nature, Community-based mangrove reforestation in Aceh, Indonesia , Mangrove restoration, Strengthening Coastal Resilience for Communities in Nusa Tenggara Timur, Indonesia , Strengthening local NGOs in Indonesia in mangrove rehabilitation techniques

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