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Technical Guidelines ‘Systems Understanding’ for Nature-inclusive Coastal Infrastructure design

Published on:
  • Coastal resilience
  • Coastal wetland conservation
  • Integrated delta management

Nature-inclusive infrastructure design is neither simple nor straightforward and very little guidance is yet available. To truly make use of ecosystem services and to conserve or restore natural processes and functions, the natural system needs to be well understood. This technical guideline provides a guide to better understand the coastal system, to know what processes to consider and what experts and tools can help develop successful infrastructure and coastal zone management projects for nature, economy and people.

Knowledge of the natural system is key for understanding the environment in which infrastructural developments are planned and for the analysis of hazards such as landslides, floods or erosion that threaten people, assets and economic development. Such knowledge, based on theoretical understanding and thorough insight into site-specific processes, aids in analysing the risks and opportunities, which can ultimately determine the success of interventions. This technical guidelines provides an overview of the main elements of natural system analysis: the geological, hydrological and ecological processes that shape coastal systems, along with how these can be assessed through a variety of methods.

The guideline targets not only officials at governmental infrastructure departments that allocate infrastructure investments, but also implementation agencies, engineers and NGOs who assess feasibility of green and grey infrastructure and finalize this into design and implementation.


Van Wesenbeeck, B.K., van Rees, F.F., Tonneijck, F., Cronin, K., Winterwerp, H. (2021). System Understanding; Building with Nature to restore eroding tropical muddy coasts. Ecoshape technical report, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.


This guideline is part 2 of a series of Technical Guidelines on technical and socio-economic Building with Nature measures that, in combination, help to restore eroding tropical muddy coasts. They bring together experiences and lessons learned from the Building with Nature Indonesia programme which restores eroding tropical muddy coasts. These guidelines are based on insights and lessons learned during the implementation of a district scale pilot in Central Java as part of the Building with Nature Indonesia program. By sharing our lessons learned in these practical guidelines, we aim to enable replication by government agencies, the water and aquaculture sector and NGOs. Building with Nature measures need to be part of integrated coastal zone management and require a thorough problem understanding and system analysis.

Available Guidelines in this series:
#1 Building With Nature Approach
#2 Systems Understanding
#3 Permeable Structures
#4 Associated Mangrove Aquaculture Farms
#5 Sustainable Aquaculture Through Coastal Field Schools

More information about Building with Nature Indonesia:

Technical Guidelines #2 'Systems Understanding'