Persons involved
Dr. Ir. Bas Borsje

Funding of the project


Worldwide, hard structures are used as coastal protection measure. These structures are static and do not respond to changing boundary conditions like sea level rise and increasing storminess. Moreover, the energy released during extreme events is hardly dissipated, resulting in enormous losses and damage. Recently, the use of soft solutions in front of hard structures is more and more proposed – but not applied – as sustainable coastal protection measure. These measures allow for economic growth in coastal regions, which are the world’s most valuable areas.

In the ForeShore project, I will focus on understanding and applying wetlands in front of dikes in order to dissipate wave energy. These wetlands are able to grow with sea level rise and at the same time strengthen ecosystem functioning. Recent laboratory experiments demonstrated surprisingly high stability of coastal wetlands, even during such extreme events. However, the physical processes responsible for the stability of the bed are not yet understood. Therefore, the safety level of these measures is not certain and consequently hampers the implementation of wetlands as innovative coastal protection measure worldwide.

In combined field experiments, laboratory experiments and model studies I will investigate the stability of wetlands and specifically focus on root structure and the behavior of clays in sediment. This will lead to better understanding of (uncertainties) in the safety levels of wetlands. My expertise in investigating bio-physical interactions as well as my experience in translating fundamental research towards application makes me a perfect candidate to make this paradigm shift in coastal protection measures. The project will provide the knowledge, methods and tools required for the design of wetlands as safe and cost-effective alternative in coastal protection. Strong cooperation with end-users from the private sector, government and non-governmental organizations is embedded in the project to guarantee the implementation of my findings in practice.