Eco-engineering and the Restoration of Coral Reefs for Risk Reduction in Grenada
There is a growing body of scientific evidence and project-based experience that coastal habitats such as reefs, mangroves and coastal wetlands and dunes, can offer cost effective risk reduction. By using adaptation and hazard mitigation investments to promote and restore these nature-based defenses, we have an opportunity to strengthen this first line of coastal defense. The Nature Conservancy is working globally to demonstrate that nature-based solutions can be effective for adaptation and risk reduction. By applying a coastal resilience approach along with the development and use of innovative mapping and visualization tools, we are informing restoration, adaptation and conservation decisions around the world.
In Grenville, Grenada, TNC is leading an innovative coral reef restoration project as part of ‘At the Waters Edge`- a community-based initiative to reduce vulnerability to climate change. This coastal community has seen an increase in coastal erosion and flooding due to the degradation of an offshore coral reef system. Like many coastal systems where healthy reefs act as natural breakwaters this once healthy and thriving reef reduced wave energy as swells traveled across the bay and to the adjacent shoreline. This reef project aims to facilitate recovery of the coral reef in order to directly reduce coastal erosion and flooding. When fully funded and constructed, the entire reef will measure 400 m long and provide protection for several important beach and coastal areas for the Town of Grenville. To learn more watch this video produced by TNC and partners at ESRI about the AWE Project or download the project fact sheet.
The first test phase of the project based on precise engineering studies and models of wave energy, has already been installed. With support from The German Federal Foreign Office and in partnership with Grenada Fund for Conservation, Grenada Red Cross Society and community members, the pilot project for building a submerged breakwater on the Grenville reefs was formally launched in early January 2015. A total of 30 meters of submerged breakwater structures were constructed on the northern portion of the Grenville reef flat. The design of the project is based on state-of-the-art engineering models. These models reveal how reef loss in front of Grenville has led to erosion and flooding and more importantly how reef restoration can reduce those risks by changing waves and currents.
Upon completion, the breakwater will be one of the first examples in the world demonstrating how communities and Governments of Small Island States can work with nature to protect coastal communities from the impacts of climate change. Nature-based solutions combine ecology and engineering to jointly meet adaptation, risk reduction and conservation goals.
To learn more:
- Watch this video produced by IH Cantabria and TNC that illustrates models use to engineer this project
- Download the Grenada Reef Project Fact Sheet
- Download and Read Integrating Natural Defenses into Sustainable Coastal Risk Management: New Report
- Read Coral reefs work as nature’s sea walls – it pays to look after them.