Coastal erosion

A situation that is increasingly unacceptable and which requires safe, efficient and sustainable solutions

Coastal erosion in France

Strategy and key figures

(Sources: Ifen data on coastal erosion in mainland France; S. Colas, 2006)

of the coast in mainland France is receding (1,723 km of coastline)
of the land surface located less than 250 m from the coast is urbanised or artificialised
of the 100 principal tourist areas are affected
residents, 7 million tourist beds, 48% of the available camping grounds

Ministry Records 2009  

In 2009, the Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development
issued recommendations for the management of the coastline
following the Grenelle de la Mer roundtable.

IFEN 2007 file

In 2007, the French Institute for the Environment (IFEN) published a comprehensive geographical and statistical study of marine erosion.

Coastal erosion in Europe

Strategy and key figures

• 20% of the EU’s coastline is affected by erosion (20,000 km)
• Between 500 and 1,000 billion euros invested in a 500-metre-wide strip of coastline
• Over 70 million people affected
• 158,000 people will be victims of erosion and flooding in 2020

Erosion Study

In 2004, the EC commissioned a study on the entire coastline of the European Union, in order to assess the threat represented by coastal erosion. This study, which was named EUROSION, resulted in a classification of the regions exposed to erosion. These regions have been classified according to four severity criteria.

(Source: Eurosion)


Construction of structures in the sea or on the coastline

Construction of structures in the sea or on the coastline

This consists in the construction of longitudinal structures (defence) or transverse structures (groynes, drainage channels). Coastal defence structures may be built on the upper beach (dikes, walls), lower beach (breakwaters) or inside the sea.
They require heavy investments, high maintenance costs and have negative environmental impacts (transport and handling of heavy materials with high CO2 emissions)
They often prove ineffective over time (44% of the coastline with structures, i.e. 600 km, continue to recede) because of the action of the sea on the durability of the structures.
The usage of these techniques is often necessary, and useful for providing security to properties; their durability needs to be improved in order to cut down on maintenance costs.

    Dynamic developments using or acting on natural materials

    Dynamic developments using or acting on natural materials

    - Remodelling/reloading of the foreshore
    - Disposal of materials in shallow areas
    - Rehabilitation and creation of dunes
    - Heavy and repetitive investments with costly maintenance
    - Impact on the environment (bringing in of external materials, destruction of the natural habitat, CO2 emissions)

      It might be possible to reduce the impact by using an innovative solution that improves durability and sedimentary retention, and maintains the sandy beach profile while blending into the landscape and without bringing in external materials.


      - At the base of the dikes, we install cushions, blankets or ridges to reinforce the riprap base.
      Géocorail’s development will be diffused into the ground and will create a stabilising cord for the structure base, thus avoiding the dispersal of fines at the foot of the structure, as well as increasing the contact surface and consequently the block friction coefficient of the sand bed.
      The longevity of the dike core is thus preserved by preventing the base blocks from slipping. They are caught in the Géocorail matrix on which they are built, which anchors them and ensures their stability, all the while maintaining the energy dissipation properties of the structure.

      - On the lower beach, we place a blanket for the Géocorail formation that will emerge after aggregation and will present a rough surface that can retain the sand brought in by the backwash after each wave surge.

      Increase in awareness of Public Authorities

      Towards a national and European coastal management strategy

      "Blue Book" of the Grenelle de la Mer roundtable
      - Develop a nationwide methodology for coastline management
      "France" : 2 major measures in 2014
      - First national mapping of coastal erosion
      - Specific programme for the integrated management of coastal risks
      "EU" : 4 conclusions of the Eurosion 2004 study
      - Restore sedimentary equilibrium
      - Integrate the cost and risk of erosion into plans
      - Make responses to coastal erosion easy to understand
      - Reinforce the knowledge base on coastal erosion

      Do you want to know more about Géocorail?

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