Bournemouth University’s (BU) Marineff project has won the Habitat Creation Small Scale award at the CIRIA BIG Biodiversity Challenge Awards for its work creating and testing artificial rockpools.
The BIG Biodiversity Challenge invites the construction industry to add biodiversity enhancements to construction sites, developments or existing buildings. These enhancements improve biodiversity and ecological habitat in the local environment and can be things like wildflower meadows or bat boxes.
The Marineff project (MARine INfrastructure EFFects) is a three year, cross-Channel research project between universities and partners in the South of England and North of France. The project is looking at how to protect species from ‘coastal squeeze’ – an effect caused by rising sea levels that reduces the habitat of coastal marine life.
As sea levels rise, rocky shores are lost where hard sea defences along urban coastlines create a barrier and prevent a natural habitat migration. To combat this, the BU team has installed nearly 120 artificial rockpools across three UK sites and will be monitoring the life found in the pools during the project.
The artificial rockpools were manufactured by Isle of Wight based eco-engineering company Artecology and are a new bespoke design for the Marineff project. Made with a metal bracket, the rockpools are able to be mounted on existing coastal infrastructure.
Most harbour walls and coastal infrastructure have a smooth finish without any holes or grooves for species to attach to or hide in. The Marineff rockpools aim to increase biodiversity by providing seawater pools, cracks and crevices for species to find cover when the pools are exposed at low tide.
The BIG Biodiversity Challenge Habitat Creation Small Scale award is given to a project that has created habitat of less than 5 hectares and increased the area’s biodiversity.
Marineff Research Assistant Jessica Bone said: “We were up against some stiff competition in one of the most popular categories, so it was an absolute delight to win. All too often, coastal habitat mitigation and enhancement can be forgotten and neglected, which I think was recognised by the judges and gave us the edge.
“The Marineff artificial rockpools are one of the largest scale eco-engineering schemes in the UK, and it wouldn't be possible without the hard work of the Marineff project team at BU, and the support from local authorities. We already have strong evidence that the addition of the Marineff artificial rockpools improves biodiversity on seawalls, and we can't wait to see how they continue to support marine life.”
The Marineff project is a prime example of how Bournemouth University is working to protect and preserve a sustainable environment and you can find out more about the project here.