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Naturally occurring sand dunes are wind-formed sand deposits representing a store of sediment in the zone just landward of normal high tides (French 2001). Artificial dunes are engineered structures created to mimic the functioning of natural dunes. Dune rehabilitation refers to restoring degraded natural or artificial dunes to optimize coastal protection benefits.
Artificial dune construction and dune rehabilitation are technologies aimed at reducing both coastal erosion and flooding in adjacent coastal lowlands. Dunes naturally occur along most undeveloped, sandy coastlines. Their coastal defence role is two-fold:
- They provide a barrier between sea and land in a similar way to a sea wall.
- They provide ‘dynamic’ protection: the dune/beach system is dynamic and constantly undergoing small adjustments in response to changes in the wind and wave climate and sea level. As such, dunes are able to supply sediment to the beach when it is needed in times of erosion, or store it when it is not (French, 2001).