An engineering solution to preserve coastal biodiversity

blocks designed to preserve marine habitat

As global warming causes sea levels to rise, many coastal communities are fighting erosion with concrete or rock gabions or seawalls. While these measures may preserve landmass, they do not provide the same opportunities for habitats as natural rock formations.

Fortunately, Dr. Louise Firth of the Ryan Institute at the National University of Ireland is studying solutions to this problem. The Irish Times reports:

The basic reason that artificial rock or concrete structures hold much fewer life forms than natural rocky shores is simple enough. They do not form the fissures and fractures that retain water at low tide and eventually become rock pools, providing more or less permanent saltwater habitats.

So, Firth has developed the elegant solution of concrete "Bioblocks" with depressions for sea creatures to colonize. Seacams, a firm that has partnered with Firth to develop the blocks, says Bioblocks can be incorporated into existing projects or future erosion defense plans.

The purpose of the Bioblock is to provide additional suitable habitats within a sea wall or revetment structure to increase the biodiversity of the shoreline. The Bioblock is designed to contain rock-pool type environments, sheltered shelves and pockets which provide a stable habitat.

They hope the idea can become the "gold standard" in building projects along the ocean's edge.

An engineering solution to preserve coastal biodiversity
Dr. Louise Firth designs a solution to threatened biodiversity on Galway's shores.