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Mangroves + Oysters + Earthen Dikes = Eco Engineering

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How can people living on coastlines protect their land from storm flooding, erosion, and the perils that come with a changing climate? This Wageningen University and Research animation demonstrates how a multi-solution approach to eco engineering can shore up shores: Mangroves + Oysters + Earthen Dikes.

A nature-based combination can potentially create storm-resistant ecosystems that also provide other benefits: Food, water filtering, economic opportunities, and more. From the Global Center on Adaptation:

“Oysters purify water, filtering out pollutants. Oyster reefs provide a habitat for all kinds of sea creatures, and food for humans. And oyster reefs help with adapting to climate change: much like purpose-built structures, they can help to prevent erosion of shorelines by dissipating the power of waves.”

unprotected coastline
Reducing wave power with oysters, mangroves, and earthen dikes

“Oyster reefs are formed when baby oysters, or spat, attach to and grow on other oysters’ shells. The resulting structures, comprising living and dead oysters, can grow to hundreds of metres. New oyster reefs can be artificially encouraged to form by depositing a mass of oyster shells – or another hard substance, such as concrete – seeded with spat.”

seeding an oyster reef

“This is an example of an approach known as ecological engineering. Researchers from Wageningen University studied its effectiveness by growing an oyster reef in Kutubdia Island on the southeast coast of Bangladesh. Based on a successful experience in Oosterschelde in the Netherlands, it was the first time the idea had been tested a sub-tropical, monsoon climate.

“As sea levels rise and storms become more extreme, protecting coastlines from erosion and flooding becomes ever more important – especially in Bangladesh, where an estimated sixth of the country’s land could be submerged by 2050, displacing 20 million people.”

planting mangroves in the sediment
Related reading at BBC Future: The unlikely protector against Bangladesh’s rising seas. Also: What are natural climate solutions?

Watch these handpicked videos next:
Why are mangrove trees so important?
• Can oysters stop a flood?
Erosion demonstration: Comparing grass, dead leaves, and soil
• Earth’s Hydrosphere and Geosphere + Weathering and Erosion

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