Sea dikes protect low-lying hinterlands along many coasts all around the world. Commonly, they are designed as embankments with grass covers or grey revetments accounting for the prevailing hydraulic loads. So far, incorporation of ecological aspects in the dike design is limited. With regard to increasing environmental awareness and climate change adaptation needs, the present study reviews methods for ecological enhancement of sea dikes and discusses limitations and challenges related to these methods. In doing so, one key aspect is to maintain dike safety while increasing the ecological value. Potential for ecological enhancement of sea dikes has been found regarding natural or nature-based solutions in the foreshore, dike surface protection measures (vegetated dike covers, hard revetments and dike roads) and the dike geometry. While natural and nature-based solutions in the foreland are investigated thoroughly, so far only few experiences with ecological enhancements of the dike structure itself were gained resulting in uncertainties and knowledge gaps concerning the implementation and efficiency. Additional to technical uncertainties, engineers and ecologists meet the challenge of interdisciplinary collaboration under consideration of societal needs and expectations.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited