Back to Resilience of Coastal Communities (ROCC)


Who are we?

We are a group of researchers with a shared interest in improving the marine environment for nature and people. Our Resilience of Coastal Communities (ROCC) project explores the past and present management of marine environments to help people make better management decisions in the future. Our team has come together from the University of Exeter, University of Bristol, and European Centre for Environment and Human Health and Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and is being led by Dr Louisa Evans. 

What is ROCC?

We want to understand better how changes – such as environmental, social and policy changes – might impact three things:

We are calling the relationship between environment, wellbeing and resilience ‘the nexus*’. Taking a ‘nexus approach’ to environmental management means considering the potential impacts of our actions on  the environment, people’s wellbeing and community resilience. This approach will help decision makers to find a balance between all three, leading to a more sustainable use of marine resources and benefits for people.

To develop, support and apply a nexus approach we will be studying current projects, historical perspectives, and future policy across Cornwall, Devon and the wider UK.

*Nexus: “An important connection between the parts of a system or a group of things” Cambridge Dictionary

Current projects

We are investigating how coastal communities in the Southwest are responding to changes and risks today. We want to use this knowledge to help practitioners develop and deliver projects that jointly consider the marine environment, people’s wellbeing and community resilience.

We want to know:

Our main sources of information will come from talking to those who work and live on the coast, and to a wide range of coastal managers and practitioners. We have held a workshop to understand their experiences supporting the environment, wellbeing and resilience. We are using interviews to further study these experiences. We will also conduct a survey to hear how those who live and work on the coast have responded to recent changes.

Historical perspectives

We are taking a historical perspective to explore how coastal communities in Cornwall and Devon responded to changes within living memory, and how those past events influence people today.

We want to know:

Our main sources of information will come from archives and oral history recordings. We will look at written historical documents, photographs and other sources of information to see if we can find evidence of change events and how the communities responded to them. Oral history recording sessions will take place with people who have spent their lifetime living and working by and with the sea. 

Future policy

We are taking a forward-looking approach to explore what changes and risks UK coastal communities might face in the future. 

We want to know:

Our main source of information will come from working with both policy-makers and practitioners. Engaging with people who design and implement interventions in the marine environment will allow us to develop a tool that supports joined up thinking. Taking a ‘nexus approach’ across the environment, wellbeing and resilience will benefit both the environment and the people who live and work by the sea.

Why are we doing this research?

We hope we can use our research to learn lessons from the past and present to make better decisions in the future.

Our findings will be written up as academic papers and presented at conferences, as well as being shared as policy briefs and tools for local and national authorities and practitioners. Towards the end of the research we would also like to develop an exhibition or display for the public.  

When will the research happen?

The research started in 2021 and will run until August 2024. 

Further information

The study is funded by the UKRI NERC Sustainable Management of UK Marine Resources Strategic Priority Fund (Grant Ref: NE/V016601/1). The leader of this study is Dr Louisa Evans, based at the University of Exeter.  

Contact details

If you wish to find out more about this study, please contact Dr Louisa Evans at

For regular updates on the research activities, follow us on Twitter.