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Building with Nature Guideline > Building Solutions > Ecosystem engineers > Habitat requirements for Seagrass 

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Habitat requirements for seagrass


This building solution focuses on the creation of suitable conditions for seagrass meadows that change the near-bed flow and dissipate wave energy in shallow water, thereby influencing sediment transport, erosion and deposition. Including a seagrass meadow in a coastal defence design requires integration of ecological and engineering knowledge. A first assessment can be done with limited site-specific knowledge, for instance making use of local and historical data. Subsequently, for each new case a detailed feasibility assessment has to be made, integrating generic and site-specific ecological and engineering knowledge with socio-economic aspects. The latter are important because human activities such as urban and industrial runoff, urban and port infrastructure development and dredging are currently among the major threats to seagrass ecosystems worldwide (Grech et al., 2012).


This building solution describes the habitat requirements for intertidal seagrass meadows in soft sediment habitats. This guideline can be used to check whether a certain location is suitable or can be made suitable for the establishment of intertidal seagrass meadows.

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Determination flowchart for seagrass

Determination flowchart for seagrass

How to Use


If an ecosystem engineer is considered to be included in a design for coastal protection or coastal rehabilitation, several questions need to be answered:

  • Is it possible to create a suitable habitat for one or multiple ecosystem engineers in the project area?
  • What would be the envisaged services provided by this ecosystem?
  • To what extent can the ecosystem contribute to the (protection) function of the design and how does this affect the design itself? For example, what dimensions of a seagrass meadow are needed to reduce erosion or stabilize sediment? Or: at what water depth is a coral reef an efficient wave dissipator? What is the impact of this ecosystem engineer on the existing physical, ecological and socio-economical system?
  • What are the costs and risks of including such ecosystem engineers in the design?

The determination flowchart gives a first answer to the suitability of a certain habitat for seagrasses. Other questions can be elaborated in subsequent or parallel steps.

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Practical Applications

This section describes a practical application of the above theory. The study area for this application is East Coast Park (ECP), a recreational coastal park in Singapore. The whole park is located on reclaimed land which is subject to coastal retreat since reclamation in the 1970s. Hard structures, mainly headland breakwaters, were built to combat these erosion problems. More information on East Coast Park can be found on the page East Coast Park Design Pilot. 


A Building with Nature (BwN) design was made to alleviate erosion at ECP and to enhance biodiversity in the area. Currently, ecosystems like coral reefs, seagrass meadows, oyster reefs or mangrove forests at ECP are almost or totally absent in the area. The question is to what extent a BwN design allows for restoring these ecosystems, which one would expect to occur naturally in Singapore. 

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