The City of Rotterdam have collaborated with companies such as Boskalis, Deltares en Reefy on an artificial reef project for their Groene Poort (Green Gate) initiative. The goal is to improve biodiversity while protecting against flooding and making waterfronts more attractive. According to Reefy chief executive and co-founder Jaime Ascencio, these eco-engineering solutions will be cheaper to maintain compared with traditional structures in the face of climate change.

Boskalis, a dredging and marine services provider, has been at the forefront of the project. In less than three days, seventeen reef blocks were installed.The modular artificial reefs are expected to be more sustainable than traditional structures in keeping natural riverbanks in place and to protect them against ship waves.

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Massive Lego blocks

Reefy’s innovation consists of massive “Lego-like” blocks, which have been hydrodynamically designed and tested in the Deltares wave flume. The ecological development on the reef will be continuously monitored by Reefy to see effects on the total improvement in ecosystem services, compared with conventional solutions.

Paul Peters, lead for the artificial reefs programme at Boskalis said: “This step is not the end goal, but only the beginning of the large-scale application of these modular artificial reefs.”

Growing need for sustainable solutions

With sea levels rising due to climate change, there is a growing need for sustainable solutions that can protect against flooding while also improving biodiversity. Artificial reefs are increasingly being seen as a viable solution due to their potential to provide cost-effective protection against flooding while also promoting ecological growth.

The Groene Poort (Green Gate) project is just one example of how artificial reefs can be used to improve coastal resilience while also promoting biodiversity. It is likely that other cities and ports will look to similar initiatives as a way to protect their coastlines while also promoting ecological growth.