At first glance, the wavy, furrowed and honeycombed surfaces are reminiscent of abstract art. But the concrete tiles that cover Sydney Harbor’s quay walls are designed to help snails, mussels and other sea creatures repopulate the fortified shoreline. Smooth surfaces without niches and hiding places are uninhabitable for marine organisms. As a result, complex eco-communities are lost. In Australia, marine biologists have therefore teamed up with industrial designers to transform the bare flood protection walls into living walls (English: living seawalls).
The project has been running successfully in Sydney for years: the researchers announced on Twitter in December 2022 that the tiles are now almost completely populated : more than 115 species now live in them, including seaweed, fish, snails and other invertebrates. Species conservationists are also interested in the “living seawalls” in other countries: they have already been installed in Singapore, Gibraltar and Wales, while suitable sites for a pilot project are currently being sought in Boston . Even in Germany, in the Kiel Fjord, »living seawalls« have already been installed as part of a student project.
Humans are destroying more and more natural habitats around the world. As we expand our cities, intensify agriculture, fortify coastlines, and pollute the environment, we rob animals of suitable places to rest and hide, lay eggs, incubate, grow, or hibernate. There is a lack of nesting and sleeping places because suitable trees have been felled or have been charred due to forest fires and only grow back slowly. Coastal dwellers in the ocean are suffering because their habitats are being concreted over and straightened.