Rijkswaterstaat, the Municipality of Rotterdam, Boskalis and Reefy are testing the Reefy artificial reef system to support nature restoration and conservation efforts in the tidal area of the river Meuse. It is part of the “Groene Poort” or “Green Gate” project.

After careful preparation and in close collaboration with all the partners, seventeen Reefy modules were assembled underwater by Boskalis in under three days. The artificial reef is approximately 25 metres long and 3 metres high, which makes it possible to see its top layer during low tide.

The reef forms a pilot sustainable living breakwater in the Port of Rotterdam. The innovative nature-based wave barrier not only protects the shores from large ship waves but also helps preserve and restore biodiversity. The living breakwater restores the intertidal environment and provides shelter for fish such as sturgeons and European eels migrating between the Atlantic Ocean and major rivers in Europe.

Next to the four consortium partners, this pilot project was made possible thanks to invaluable technical advice and support of PortXL, Rotterdam Zoo Blijdorp, Burgers Zoo, TU Delft and Deltares.

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Ecological foreshores

‘We need to rethink marine infrastructure and include the right conditions for letting nature thrive,’ says Jaime Ascencio, CEO and co-founder of Reefy. ‘It is important that water and sediments can go through breakwaters, then those appropriate conditions will allow ecological foreshores to develop that can grow with sea level rise. The ReefBlocks provide this and the necessary complexity to boost life underwater. These eco-engineering solutions will be cheaper to maintain compared to traditional structures in the face of climate change.’

Sander de Borst, technical advisor, Rijkswaterstaat (Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management): ‘We use sustainable (recycled) and innovative materials for the breakwaters. We are happy to give space to a pilot such as this one that has both hydraulic and ecological value and is produced sustainably.’

Ecological development monitoring

‘The ecological development on the reef will be continuously monitored by us to see effects on the total improvement in ecosystem services, compared with the conventional solutions. Before the installation, the benchmark biodiversity measurements were taken by Reefy, and we expect the first ecological results of this transformational coastal defense project in a few months,’ explains Leon Haines, CTO and co-founder of Reefy.

First blocks of the Reefy artificial reef

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