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Florida Native Dune Systems’ Ecological Sustainability


Florida has been known as a tourist destination and the epicentre of the U.S. agricultural growth for quite a while (Hodges, Rahmani, & Stevens, 2013). However, the recent changes in the environment, particularly, the rise in the sea levels and the subsequent threat of its most attractive and useful areas being flooded has led to the necessity to introduce the elements of protection against the possible catastrophe (Borisova, Breuer, & Carriker, 2014). Currently, natural (dunes) and man-made (artificial structures) tools for managing the problem are used.

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Problem Statement

Addressing the problem of coastal flooding is a pressing issue on the economic agenda of Florida. Because of the threats that flooding poses to the state economy (i.e., the crops) and people’s lives (i.e., possible accidents as a result of flooding), there is a need to choose between the available solutions. Despite the fact that man-made structures offer an admittedly better outcome for the state economy and short-term goals, it is likely to harm the ecosystem because of the lack of sustainable solutions used when building it (Li & Nadolnyak, 2013). The natural coastal system, which can be used to protect people and crops, however, requires a significant update and may lack efficacy as the tool against flooding (Bolter, 2012). Therefore, there is a necessity to determine which of the approaches is more efficient in the long run, and how the disadvantages thereof can be addressed when introducing the specified approach to the set of strategies used to manage the issue of coastal flooding in Florida (Villarreal, Chafetz, & Meredith, 2015).


Although seawalls provide a high degree of protection against coastal flooding, native beach-dune systems are more effective in providing long-term ecological sustainability and coastal protection given that native dunes are better defence against coastal flooding, beach erosion, and rising sea-level and the least costly way to maintain a recreational beach for future generations

Question 1

To what degree does the use of nature dune systems allow the prevention of erosion and flooding of the Florida coastal areas and contribute to the preservation of its recreational and agricultural areas?

Question 2

To what degree does the use of man-made structures allow the prevention of erosion and flooding of the Florida coastal areas and contribute to the preservation of its recreational and agricultural areas?

Question 3

How do the two approaches compare, and why is the use of the natural dune system more efficient in the long-term perspective?

Purpose Statement

The purpose of the paper is to explore the current studies regarding the use of man-made structures and natural dune systems as the means of preventing coastal flooding in Florid and, therefore, addressing the threat to its economic and ecological sustainability. Put differently, the paper is aimed at comparing and contrasting the two approaches as far as their efficacy is concerned and determining the superior method. Furthermore, implications for the further studies will be outlined after the delivery and analysis of the research results.

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Research Design and Methodology

Seeing that there is a need to compare the efficacy of the two methods of managing the issue of the Florida coastal erosion, i.e., the use of natural dunes and man-made structures, one will have to consider the application of a quantitative research design. Furthermore, the use of the content analysis should be viewed as the primary tool for interpreting the data. The reports about the economic situation in Florida and the main industries that contribute to the economic growth (i.e., tourism and agriculture) will have to be studied. The statistical data retrieved from the papers will be used in the further assessment of the efficacy of both methods of managing coastal erosion and flooding in Florida.

Sampling (State of FL)

The samples will be taken from the coastal regions of Florida. The damage rates in the areas where man-made structures are used to protect the areas from flooding will be compared to the levels of destruction in the coastal parts of Florida where the protection against flooding is represented by natural dunes. The random sampling technique will be used as the means of maintaining the research integrity and keeping the results of the study objective. With the confidence level being set at 05%, the margin error presumably reaching 5%, and the population size being 100, the sample size will amount to 80.


Close reading of the available materials and documents addressing the issue of maintaining ecological sustainability in Florida should be viewed as the first step toward conducting an all-embracive analysis of the subject matter. Afterward, an elaborate system of codes will be designed to identify the key trends and tendencies in the development of the seawall system in Florida. By assigning specific codes to the data about the efficacy of the man-made and natural seawalls as the tools for mitigating the effects of sea levels rise in Florida, one will be able to quantify the outcomes and, therefore, retrieve the data for quantitative analysis.

Data Analysis

As soon as the necessary data is collected, a t-test should be used to compare the effects of using man-made structures to the outcomes of utilising natural obstacles to flooding, such as dunes. The quantitative data will be analyzed so that the research hypothesis could be proven either right or wrong. Thus, the superior method will be determined.

Background and Significance

The issue of coastal flooding and the associated threats to the economic and environmental sustainability of Florida has been the topic for numerous discussions or quite a while (Czajkowski et al., 2015). Needless to say, the issue of sea levels rise and the subsequent coastal flooding has affected the environment of Florida significantly. The ecosystems of the state are currently in peril. Similarly, the amount of drinking water has been reduced significantly. The low-lying areas have been affected most, yet the rest of the state has also been experiencing difficulties (Bloetscher, Hammer, Berry, Locke, & Allen, 2016).

Apart from environmental concerns and the threats to not only the agriculture but also the lives of numerous citizens, there are also economic implications of the sea levels rising and the ensuing coastal destruction, flooding, and reduction in the availability of sea resources (Science and Technical Advisory Panel, 2014). Furthermore, other economic issues can be viewed as the reason for concern; particularly, the possible damage to the state infrastructure is bound to affect the sustainability levels to a considerable degree (Cunnif & Schwarz, 2015).

Moreover, people are likely to be reluctant to consider Florida as the place where they can vacation or live is likely to affect the financial sustainability of the state. Consequently, the financial resources for managing the environmental issues will be very scarce, hence the connection between the environmental and economic concerns. The problems in the tourism and real estate industries will affect Florida and its citizens greatly (Wiggins, 2015).

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The use of natural dunes has been an option for quite a while. Dunes provide a rather efficient protection against the rise in sea levels (Ciavola et al., 2015). However, the shrinking of dunes that has been observed over the past few years suggests that the identified approach may fail to meet the needs of the residents of Florida in the long term. Thus, additional strategies for making dunes last longer will have to be introduced (Elko et al., 2016).

Man-made structures, in their turn, have proven to have higher endurance levels (Nateghi, Bricker, Guikema, & Bessho, 2016). However, they require significantly greater investments (Shumba, Makurira, Nhapi, & Gumindoga, 2014). Furthermore, the use of artificial tools for managing coastal floods and rising sea levels affects the environment negatively. For instance, the changes to the ecosystem that may trigger the extinction of certain species should be mentioned among possible negative outcomes (Huh, 2015).


Because of the recent increase in sea levels, the Florida authorities will have to choose the most efficient tool for flood management and the associated issues. The choice between the two alternatives, i.e., man-made structures and natural dunes, is rather difficult. While the latter see to have better effects and are easily controllable, the former allow for maintaining the levels of sustainability at the required rate. Therefore, an assessment and comparison of the two must be conducted to determine the best method. It is believed that the usage of natural dunes should be preferred since it offers more opportunities for maintaining the sustainability and environmentalism levels high.


Bloetscher, F., Hammer, N. H., Berry, L., Locke, N., & Allen, T. V. (2016). Methodology for predicting local impacts of sea. British Journal of Applied Science & Technology, 7(1), 84-98.

Bolter, K. (2012). Assessing the threat of sea level rise to vulnerable populations in Southeast Florida. Web.

Borisova, T., Breuer, N., & Carriker, R. (2014). Economic impacts of climate change on Florida: Estimates from two studies. Web.

Ciavola, P., Ferreira, O., Dongeren, A. V., Vries, A. V. T. D., Armaroli, C., & Harley, M. (2015). Prediction of storm impacts on beach and dune systems. In P. Quevauviller (Ed.), Hydrometeorological hazards: Interfacing science and policy (5th ed.) (pp. 227-252). New York, NY: 5 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Czajkowski, J., Engel, V., Martinez, C., Mirchi, A., Watkins, D., Hughes, J., & Sukop, M. (2015). Economic impacts of urban flooding in south Florida: Potential consequences of managing groundwater to prevent salt water intrusion. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania.

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Cunnif, S., & Schwarz, A. (2015). Performance of natural infrastructure and nature-based measures as coastal risk reduction features. London, UK: Environmental Defense Fund.

Elko, N., Brodie, K., Stockdon, H., Nordstrom, K., Houser, C., McKenna, K.,… Walker, I. (2016). Dune management challenges on developed coasts. Shore & Beach, 84(1), 15-28.

Hodges, A. W., Rahmani, M., & Stevens, T. J. (2013). Economic contributions of agriculture, natural resources, and food industries in Florida in 2013. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida.

Huh, M. K. (2015). Fluvial landscape ecology and water quality at the Jupo River, Korea. International Journal of Pure & Applied Bioscience, 3(3), 1-9.

Li, S., & Nadolnyak, D. (2013). Agricultural land development in Lee County, Florida: Impacts of economic and natural risk factors in a coastal area. Web.

Nateghi, B., Bricker, J. D., Guikema, S. D., & Bessho, A. (2016). Statistical analysis of the effectiveness of seawalls and coastal forests in mitigating tsunami impacts in Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures. PLoS One, 11(8), e0158375.

Science and Technical Advisory Panel. (2014). Sea-level rise, storm surges, and extreme precipitation in coastal New Hampshire: Analysis of past and projected future trends. New Hampshire, UK: New Hampshire Coastal Risks and Hazards Commission.

Shumba, S., Makurira, H., Nhapi, I., & Gumindoga, W. (2014). Environmental impacts of natural and man-made hydraulic structures: Case study Middle Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe. International Journal of Application or Innovation in Engineering & Management (IJAIEM), 3(1), 242-257.

Villarreal, N. M., Chafetz, H., & Meredith, J. (2015). The diagenesis of shell middens along the gulf coasts of Texas and Florida. GCAGS journal, 4(1), 29-42.

Wiggins, S. M. (2015). Low-frequency ambient noise offshore of North Carolina and Florida 2007-2014 final report. San Diego, CA: Marine Physical Laboratory.

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