CSR 2016 – boskalis 41

“We believe it can transform the way in which erosion problems are addressed along muddy coasts across the tropics.”

sediment could still filter through and accumulate and settle behind the dams. In Java the approach is similar: villagers hammer bamboo poles at least two meters into the seabed and use bundles of brushwood from the shore, binding them together to form dams of about 100 meters long. In just one year, the level of the bed can rise by up to 50 centimeters. However, it is not enough that we provide a technical solution in Demak; there are many ecological and socio-economic issues to be addressed through the program. Here we see the benefit of the multidisciplinary character of the Building with Nature program. Our EcoShape team consists of companies with a lot of engineering expertise like Boskalis and Witteveen+Bos, but also includes research institutes like Deltares and Imares, NGOs like Wetlands International and Blue Forests as well as local and national government agencies.” Femke: “The local community had to be convinced that a wide natural mangrove belt is needed both for their own safety and for keeping their land. In addition we had to show that they can still farm shrimp behind the restored mangrove greenbelt: this is their livelihood. So a lot of education and training is needed. We have set up Coastal Field Schools to train villagers so that they can identify and develop successful aquaculture practices and care for the mangroves they depend on for coastal safety and water purification. We also developed Bio-rights, an innovative financing mechanism for reconciling environmental conservation with sustainable development. For example, we provide financial support and training so that farmers can revitalize their shrimp ponds, start a crab farm or develop ecotourism. In return for this support, villagers help to maintain the permeable dams, they monitor mangrove recovery and safeguard the mangroves once restored. In some cases farmers need to give up ponds near the seafront or along rivers to facilitate mangrove restoration. This then needs to be compensated, for example by achieving higher aquaculture productivity in ponds behind the intended greenbelt.” Fokko: “Looking at the equator, we could take a similar approach in countries with comparable vulnerable coastlines such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, as well as countries in Africa and Central America. Suriname, for instance, is one of the seven globally most endangered countries in terms of sea level rise. In May 2016 a Building with Nature project in Suriname was launched to protect the coastline from seawater flooding and prevent salinization of arable land. The approach replicates the Building with Nature program in Central Java to bring a halt to coastal erosion.” Femke: “This represents a new way of looking at coastal safety and coastal defense systems. It is a low-tech solution but requires high-tech knowledge and expertise. In many locations it is not ecologically and economically feasible to implement hard infrastructure solutions, such as dams or dikes. Instead, this approach is cost-effective and brings multiple benefits to various stakeholders by restoring ecosystem services. We believe it can transform the way in which erosion problems are addressed along muddy coasts across the tropics.” Local community engagement Restoring ecosystem services worldwide

Construction of the permeable dams by local villagers.

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