Living With A Changing Coast Fieldwork

imagesP89UJWHGLast Friday, I attended a meeting of local geography teachers who have been using the excellent FREE coastal resources produced as part of the LiCCo (Living With a Changing Coast) Project.

The Living With a Changing Coast Project is a cross-channel initiative that ran from April 2011 to February 2015, focusing on the Exe Estuary and Poole Harbour in South west England and a further five coastal sites in Normandy, France. The mission of LiCCo was to help coastal communities to adapt to coastal change and climate change impacts such as sea level rise and erosion. UK partners in the project are: the Environment Agency (main partner), National Trust, Exe Estuary Management Partnership (Devon County Council), and the Dorset Coast Forum.

I blogged about the launch of the LiCCo resources in March 2015 (listing the full contents of the secondary package), and although the Project has now been concluded, the three separate packages – for Primary, Key Stage Three and Four, and A Level studies – can all be downloaded for free from the main LiCCo web site at:

There is a huge range of materials available here, but for the main books, you can enter the resource library, and either use the filters to search, or scroll to July 2014 for the secondary pack, June 2014 for the primary pack, and March 2015 for the A Level resources.

DVDs containing the learning and teaching resources can be obtained free of charge by contacting the Exe Estuary Management Partnership at:

PrintThe resources have been written by David Wetherley, who I have worked with for many years in his former role as Geography Advisor for Devon. The programme received a ‘highly commended’ citation at the 2015 Geography Association Publishers Awards, and I was pleased to be at the conference in Manchester last April to see David receive his award.

Using the Exe Estuary and Poole Harbour as case studies, all resources are designed as investigations based around key enquiry questions to help pupils investigate how the coast is managed for people and the environment. Each investigation includes background information, detailed planning, and a wide variety of learning and teaching resources.

3At the meeting, we focused on the A Level resources, and examined the different technocentric and ecocentric approaches to coastal management used at Dawlish Warren, the focus case study for a number of the resources. Consideration was given to how cost benefit analysis is used to make decisions about hard and soft engineering options, and how ‘hold the line’, ‘managed realignment’ and ‘no active intervention’ policies can contribute to sustainable development of this coastal environment.

We found out that the implications of allowing natural processes to ultimately determine what happens at Dawlish Warren spit in the near future is that the risk of flooding will increase for communities around the shoreline of the Exe estuary that are currently protected by it. We examined tidal and overtopping flood risks to the town of Exmouth, and the hard engineering that has been introduced to protect this area. We then examined the concept of ‘coastal squeeze’, and how consequences of employing further hard defences to protect communities like Starcross, Powderham and Lympstone, would lead to at least 35 Hectares of compensatory habitat needing to be created.

IMG_0925The main part of the meeting was a site visit to Dawlish Warren. We were given a really informative guided tour of the existing coastal defences by Martin Davies from the Environment Agency (one of the key partners in the LiCCo Project), and Stephen Edwards, Education Ranger for the Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve. The two experts also outlined the future plans for this area, in response to further active erosion and potential sea level increase.

The Exe estuary is a complicated environment to study, but has so many different aspects (not least in terms of management options) offering a real wealth of opportunity for geography fieldwork and classroom study. The LiCCo packages provide a huge range of resources to support work in this location, and the enquiry style used to structure the materials can be adapted to any level of ability or depth of study. If any geographers are planning a visit and need further help or support, do not hesitate to give me a call!


About devongeography

Head of Geography and Assistant Vice Principal at South Molton Community College, North Devon. Exeter Chiefs supporter!
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