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The Living Seawalls team are investigating methods to scale
up “greening seawalls” initiatives from centimeters to meters and and of adding multiple types
of habitat enhancing tiles to a single seawalls. The team is working with Reef Design Lab, a Melbourne-based
design studio, to develop these ecologically informed structures. They are monitoring the tiles
over time to answer questions such as how different microhabitats on the tiles
influence community development, or understanding the scales at which greening
seawalls can enhance ecosystem function in Sydney Harbour.
The first Living Seawalls installed along an existing seawall at Sawmillers Reserve in McMahons Point were celebrated in February 2019 at a launch event
October 2018 , Volvo Australia hosted an official launch to celebrate
the installation at Milsons Point which is a collaboration between SIMS, Reef Design Lab, North Sydney Council and Volvo.
We're excited about the possibilities to extend Living Seawalls installations to new sites, both public and private. Why not take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions
Ideally, ecologically informed designs would be
incorporated during the initial construction of an artificial structure, but as
most of the shoreline in Sydney Harbour is already modified, the current focus
of Living Seawalls is to provide cost-effective options for retrofitting
existing structures on private and public seawalls.
current phase of the project, concrete tiles have been specially designed using
3D technology to mimic natural habitat features of Sydney rocky shores and are
retrofitted to existing seawalls. The tiles have also been engineered to
withstand local wave climates, with the expectation that they will remain on
the seawalls for at least 20 years. Each tile is 55 cm in diameter and has a
unique hexagonal shape, allowing tiles of different designs to be attached in a
mosaic pattern that suits site conditions or aesthetic requirements.
future the team anticipates developing additional cost-effective
habitat-enhancing structures, such as seawall blocks, that can be produced and
installed during seawall construction or renovation. The team also plans to expand the project to other artificial marine infrastructure such as pilings and breakwater. By simultaneously raising
awareness of the growing problem of shoreline armouring and providing cost-effective,
customizable solutions for ecological improvement of artificial structures, we
anticipate opportunities for Living Seawalls will continue to grow.
The Living Seawalls team has developed a
monitoring program to determine how 1) the complex microhabitats of each tile
and 2) the number of habitat tiles installed, influences the ecological
function of artificial structures.
With the help of Honours, Masters and PhD
students, the team is assessing community development from microbes to fish. We
are also paying special attention to the rates of colonisation on each tile
type by non-native species. In addition to quantifying biodiversity and
community development, the team is collaborating with researchers from the University of Sydney who
use cutting edge habitat mapping techniques to measure the physical change in
habitat over time.
We are also quantifying how Living Seawalls installations influence
ecosystem functioning, such as improved water quality.
The team began monitoring each site prior to
tile installation and will continue monitoring the Living Seawalls tiles every
6 months for at least the first two years after habitat tiles are installed.
has been made possible by government, philanthropic and corporate sponsors. Our
sponsors include New South Wales government (NSW Environmental Trust Grant), the
Harding Miller Foundation, James N. Kirby Foundation, The Ian Potter
Foundation, Lim Sutton Initiative, SIMS Foundation and Volvo Australia.
project has also benefitted significantly from in-kind contributions by GHD,
North Sydney Council and Reef Design Lab.