A unique collaboration of science, government, philanthropy, industry and innovative design has enabled the installation of the Living Seawall at Sawmillers Reserve in McMahons Point, launched on the 28th February by Mayor Jilly Gibson, of North Sydney Council.
The Living Seawalls team are assessing the ecological benefits of scaling up greening interventions on seawalls, by adding different types of habitat enhancing tiles to an entire seawall. Scientists from SIMS will be monitoring the tiles over time to answer questions such as how different microhabitats on the tiles influence colonisation of marine life and at what scale Living Seawalls can enhance important ecosystem functions in Sydney Harbour, such as filtration rates and primary productivity, which are directly linked to food and clean water supply.
Excitingly within weeks of deployment, the Living Seawall at Sawmillers Reserve was colonised by a diverse marine community. Several species of fish were also frequently observed foraging around the seawall. In some cases, the complex microhabitats of the tiles were completely overgrown and researchers observed limpets, chitons, snails, oysters, barnacles, mussels and algae.
In the future, the team anticipates developing additional 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 breakwaters. 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.