Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 931–942 | Cite as

Application of system approach framework for coastal zone management in Pärnu, SW Estonia

  • Hannes TõnissonEmail author
  • Are Kont
  • Kaarel Orviku
  • Ülo Suursaar
  • Reimo Rivis
  • Valdeko Palginõmm


Due to changes in atmospheric circulation and warmer winters, the frequency of strong westerly storms associated with high sea level in ice-free sea conditions has increased on the western coast of Estonia. This trend is especially dangerous for the sections of depositional seashores along the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea such as Pärnu Bay and its surroundings. Pärnu is the largest city in SW Estonia being a popular summer resort with excellent sandy beaches and relevant infrastructure for tourism. Extreme events that may occur in the Pärnu Bay region are irregular extensive floods and sea ice attacks but also strong erosion of beaches. During the last 50 years, the city has suffered from two remarkably high storm surges and associated inundations. The aim of the paper was to analyze the best solutions for coastal zone management in Pärnu Bay area using a System Approach Framework (SAF). It is based on some new results of geomorphic surveys performed in the study area in 2015–2017, review of previous work as well as results from stakeholder meetings. Some formerly proposed flood defence projects and ideas were re-analyzed and new ideas were proposed to better inform the people about risks and reduce the damage in case of catastrophic events. Based on the analysis of the collected data and discussions with the stakeholders, we concluded that hard coastal protection measures would be too expensive and therefore not reasonable for implementation. Developing different kinds of adaptation measures and raising awareness of the people are the most applicable response options to high storm surges and extensive inundations in the Pärnu Bay region.


Baltic Sea Climate change Increased storminess Coastal erosion Coastal flooding Adaptation measures Coastal management 



This study was part-funded by the BONUS-BaltCoast project. BONUS-BaltCoast has received funding from BONUS (Art 185) funded jointly from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration, and from Baltic Sea national funding institutions and by the Estonian Research Council grants PUT1439 and IUT18-9.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of EcologyTallinna UniversityTallinnEstonia
  2. 2.Estonian Marine InstituteUniversity of TartuTallinnEstonia
  3. 3.Institute of Agricultural and Environmental SciencesEstonian University of Life SciencesTartuEstonia

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