Phil Dyke

Phil Dyke

Coastal and Marine Adviser
National Trust

Today the Trust cares for a tenth of the coastline in England in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (775 miles) and includes every type of coast; dune, saltmarsh, hard cliff, some great beaches, as well as villages, infrastructure, harbours etc. We are very conscious that at many of these coastal special places we have some serious challenges to dace up to associated with sea-level rise, in particular an increase in coastal erosion and flooding. This thinking sits under our banner of Shifting Shores and is guided by our coastal management principles; taking the long view, adapting to change, working together and working with nature.

Future forecasts suggest with increasing confidence that climate change will lead to continued sea-level rise and increased storminess, in turn accelerating the scale and pace of coastal change. A decade ago we commissioned research looking at how our coastline is likely to change over the next 100 years through a process of Coastal Risk Assessment. This research informed the publication of the first Shifting Shores document. The big message in Shifting Shores was and remains that it is unrealistic – in a time of rising sea levels – to think that we can continue to rely solely on engineering our way out of trouble on the coast.

2015 marks a decade since  the launch of Shifting Shores, a good time to reflect on the practical lessons we are learning form a decade of coastal change, removal of failed sea defenses, roll back and deepening our ownership to create space for future coasts.

A formal review of Shifting Shores is under way but a number of insights have become clear along the way; around the politics of managing coastal change, something about adaptation itself and what it looks like in practice, how we involve communities in understanding and managing these changes and something around being prepared to act in a timely way on the best available evidence.

Embracing an adaptive approach to managing coastal change is not necessarily cheap to implement but it is future orientated and may be transformational. Re-establishing a naturally functioning shoreline, where ever practicable, does offer the chance for transformation, a chance to free ourselves from the ‘sea defense cycle’ – construct, fail and reconstruct.

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About the speaker

Phil Dyke  has worked for the National Trust for 30 years on coastal and marine issues, initially on the Isle of Wight, then in Cornwall. In 2007 he was appointed as National Trust Coast and Marine Adviser working across England, Wales and Northern Ireland  supporting colleagues dealing with coastal change issues and working with external partners to promote sustainable approaches to the development of coastal and marine management.

He was awarded an MSc in Environment Management by the University of London with a focus on protected area management and maintains his academic interests through doing some part-time teaching on coastal and marine management at a number of universities.

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