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Living seawalls: protecting coasts, restoring life

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

The future of coastal protection takes on an innovative and ecologically resilient form through Living Seawalls. These cutting-edge solutions address two critical challenges simultaneously. If the sea level rises by a mere 0.5 meters by 2050 due to climate change, more than 500 coastal cities, inhabited by a staggering population of over 800 million people, face the danger of flooding. Furthermore, the urbanization of coastal areas has resulted in a decline in marine habitats. Incorporating Living Seawalls not only offers a promising solution to the imminent threat of coastal flooding but also presents an opportunity to restore and preserve marine habitats in the face of rapid urbanization.

Living seawall

One of the best cost-effective solutions to mitigate floods was introduced by a team of Australian researchers. Their idea, Living Seawalls, will serve as a habitat for sea creatures and plants by incorporating natural elements, such as plants and marine organisms. With the rapid growth of urban areas, the issue of erosion is escalating, giving rise to other interconnected issues like heightened pollution levels, risk of flooding, and more. Moreover, over the past few years, there has been a decrease in marine habitats. This has had a detrimental effect on sealife and biodiversity. The goal of the living sea wall is to solve both of these problems at once. The living seawall incorporates habitat panels that can be attached to shoreline infrastructure to host various species like oysters, seaweed, barnacles, and more.

Over a thousand habitat panels have been installed around the world in existing seawalls to transform them into living seawalls. After around two years of use, the innovation is already supporting a third more species than regular seawalls did. Additionally, over 130 marine species have begun using the sea walls since their installation. The installation of habitat panels as living seawalls has proven to be a remarkable success by supporting a greater variety of species and promoting a thriving marine ecosystem.

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