REST-COAST – Large scale RESToration of COASTal ecosystems through rivers to sea connectivity

The new Green Deal project REST-COAST funded by the EU Horizon2020 programme will demonstrate that large-scale restoration of river deltas, estuaries and coastal lagoons is necessary to sustain the delivery of vital ecosystem services (ESS).

Leading coastal and marine ecologists, economists and maritime engineers from 38 organisations across Europe, Turkey and Israel gathered in Barcelona in November 2021 for the official kick-off meeting of the new project. It is one of the just four projects, among 180 candidates, funded by the so-called Green Deal call of the EU Horizon 2020 programme supporting the restoration of ecosystems and their services.

38 organisations gathered in Barcelona in November 2021

REST-COAST will address some of the key challenges to coastal ecosystems today – all consequences of a long history of environmental degradation of our rivers and coasts. Even today coastal management is often based on single-sided use of resources proven unsustainable in the long term. These inherent problems are now exacerbated by climate change. For example, rising sea levels cause coastal erosion and loss of soil fertility in coastal areas due to infiltration of salty water in the aquifers, as seen in the Ebro Delta, a key rice-producing region in Spain. Similarly, numerous dams and barrages upstream many European rivers have drastically reduced the natural transport of sediments from mountainous areas towards the sea. The reduced deposition of sediments causes the retreat of deltas visible in just a few decades and is often measured in many square kilometres of fertile land lost to the sea.

The goals of REST-COAST are to demonstrate that large-scale coastal restoration is not only possible but vital for our adaptation to climate change. Coastal ecosystems can provide low-carbon adaptation potential to reduce risks and provide gains in biodiversity, ecosystem service delivery (such as agri- and aquaculture, flood protection and tourism). 

The restoration of vulnerable coastal ecosystems, such as wetlands, dunes, or seagrass beds requires the overcoming of technical, economic, governance and social barriers to restoration upscaling. REST-COAST will reinstate the perturbated river-to-coast connectivity and increase the resilience and delivery of coastal ecosystem services, for which the pilot sites will provide ample opportunity under present and future climate scenarios. The nine Pilots represent vulnerability hotspots for the main EU regional seas (Baltic, Black, North Atlantic and the Mediterranean). Through engaging communication activities REST-COAST shall increase the commitment of citizens, stakeholders and policymakers towards long-term maintenance of coastal restoration. 

Project starting date & duration: 01 October 2021, 54 months 

Total project budget: 18 482 592,50 €

REST-COAST is co-funded by the European Union through the H2020 programme

Restoration activities have started in the pilot sites and news can be followed on Twitter (@RESTCOAST_H2020) & Facebook ( @RESTCOAST.H2020) while awaiting the launch of the project website in spring 2022.