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Nature enriched structures


Low-lying delta areas often use dikes and other hard coastal defence structures to protect the land against flooding, and harbour structures such as piers, docks and jetties for transport purposes. On top of their primary function, these structures are often used by a variety of plants and animals for growing, reproduction, nursery and feeding. 

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Coastal defences can be improved in this respect by adapting traditional coastal engineering structures to this ecosystem function. This may even have a positive effect on the structure itself: extra dike stability and wave damping may be provided by deliberate introduction of vegetation such as saltmarsh, reeds, shrubs or trees. Eco-friendly revetments can contribute to the ecological value of a dike and – depending on their location and design, dikes may also host a range of other functions such as living, meadow-land and recreation.
Several pilot experiments have been initiated along the Dutch coast. Also outside the Netherlands, projects for ecologically enriched seawalls are being developed. Based on the outcome of these experiments, the various designs are being improved continuously.


Here we consider the following types of structure enrichment:

Soft Eco-Levee: Replacing

Green-grey solutions 


Sometimes, fully 'green solutions' are not feasible due to high wave energy and/or limited space. Here, green-gray hybrid solutions may form an interesting alternative. In addition to a traditional dike, vegetated foreshores can help to reduce wave height and stabilize the sediment. Under certain conditions the dike’s crest can even be designed lower than in a traditional design due to the wave-attenuating effect of the foreshore. In addition, the ecological value of grey infrastructure can be improved by slightly adapting them to form a habitat for a variety of plants and animals. These 'nature-enriched structures' or 'rich revetments' are applied in harbours as well as along sea dikes. 


, the Soft Eco-Levee is in essence a safe dike constructed entirely of sediments. Added stability and wave dampening may be provided by deliberate introduction of vegetation such as saltmarsh vegetation, reeds, shrubs or trees.Rich revetments and foreshores:

. Vegetated foreshores in freshwater environments have the ability to reduce wave impact, provide en enhance the natural value.  

This concept aims to create

highly variable

biodiverse habitats

in the intertidal and subtidal zone of

structures, utilizes a variety of different materials, gradients and shapes.Biodiverse hard substrates: The intertidal region of a seawall represents a very stressful habitat. Biodiverse hard substrates applies complex concrete tiles attached to seawalls can enhance their biodiversity

hard structures

such as seawalls and harbours.

Rich structures are small-scale structures that provide habitat for organisms. Examples are floating marshes and pile and pontoon hulas. The structures are easy to apply and suitable even when available space is limited.


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