Skip to content


Home >> Project >> CRW2022_02 The effect of shellfish, kelp and sea grass beds on flood risk and coastal erosion in Scotland

CRW2022_02 The effect of shellfish, kelp and sea grass beds on flood risk and coastal erosion in Scotland

Scottish Coastline - Photo credit: Rebekah Burman, James Hutton Institute

CREW Code: CRW2022_02

Theme: Hydrological Extremes, Coasts and Risk Management

Project status: Project in progress

Type of project: Capacity building

Context: The intention of the project is to fill gaps in knowledge around the role of shallow marine habitats in flood and coastal erosion mitigation in Scotland. The work has relevance to multiple policy areas, including those relating to flooding and coastal erosion, biodiversity, climate change, marine planning and ambitions for a blue economy.


Budget: up to a maximum of £100,000. 

Aim: The overall aim of this project is to inform whether shellfish (oyster and/or blue mussel beds), kelp and sea grass should be incorporated into natural flood management (NFM) in Scotland and whether (and which) existing features should be protected or restored for NFM and coastal erosion mitigation.

Project key questions:

  1. What is the current state of knowledge and data availability?
  2. What additional information can be sourced from relevant stakeholders including experts and policy-makers, especially with regards to recent developments and unpublished data?
  3. What marine habitats could be considered in the Scottish context to reduce flood and erosion risk?
  4. What does the literature suggest regarding the role of different marine habitats in flood and coastal erosion mitigation and potential benefits and limitations?
  5. What is the historic and current distribution of native oyster beds, blue mussel beds, kelp and sea grass beds in Scotland?
  6. How are these habitats subject to commercial fishing or harvesting practices in Scotland and are there future plans to expand commercial exploitation of these habitats?
  7. Which existing marine habitats are most likely to reduce flood risk and erosion to adjacent shorelines in Scotland?
  8. What plans currently exist and what are the costs for planned restoration of these features in Scotland?
  9. Which areas/locations in Scotland could be targeted to reduce this risk, and/or are there sites where existing features could be protected or restored to reduce risk?
  10. How can this be represented in form of a simplified map to inform stakeholders?
  11. What are the clear opportunities for protection, regeneration, and/or restoration of these habitats in Scotland and what recommendations can be given about how to design these features for flood and coastal erosion management? 

Impact: Benefits include the development of policy in relation to NFM that facilitates the management, restoration and protection of these marine features, thus helping to reduce flooding to coastal communities and increase resilience to future changes in risk.

Lead research team: Heriot Watt Universtiy

Project Objectives

Contact CREW Staff