In the field of coastal defense and riverbank protection, we are continuously looking for creative ways to establish the right conditions to enhance nature. Our multidisciplinary knowledge contributes to finding solutions that are climate-adaptative for both the environment and our business. Through the expertise and experience gained by the Artificial Reefs Program (ARP), Boskalis forms an industry leader in the development and application of large-scale artificial reefs.
Goal of the ARP
The goal of the Boskalis Artificial Reefs Program (ARP) is to provide solutions for environmental enrichment in our offering to clients by using artificial reef technology as an enabler for marine infrastructure or coastal protection works. Furthermore, artificial reefs can support the development and conservation of marine ecosystem cornerstone species such as corals, oysters and herbivorous fish.
The goal of the ARP relates directly to the objectives in the corporate sustainability strategy, specifically the focus areas biodiversity and climate change adaptation. Some examples of how the ARP is making a difference is through the application of artificial reefs in living breakwaters to form a synergy between coastal protection and ecosystems. Knowledge development on (artificial) reefs leads to scientifically and ecologically founded solutions for projects executed in environmentally sensitive areas through mitigating and enhancing designs.
Our unique approach
Whether it concerns coastal protection, ecological restoration and/or fisheries management, Boskalis aims to provide fit-for-purpose solutions with a clear business case. To achieve this, we engage in strong strategic partnerships with parties who are at the forefront of (modular) engineering. Boskalis hereby enables and provides opportunities for pilots, tenders and awarded projects. We also provide key insights/technical requirements for artificial reef designs in challenging environments. In return, our strategic partners provide us with a diverse range of artificial reef options to serve our clients and markets.
Our potential roles
Boskalis can take up various roles when it comes to artificial reefs implementation. In our focus role, we provide input to pilots, tenders and projects. We support permitting processes, provide integrated designs (ecology, hydraulics and logistics), and engage in close collaborations with relevant partners and stakeholders. Where applicable, we make detailed work method statements for marine installations and aid in further knowledge development and community engagement. In our strategic role, we support project owners in a pre-tender stage to link challenges with solutions, catalyze opportunities and help prospective projects achieve higher value outcomes.
Artificial Reefs Program projects
The Artificial Reefs Program integrates knowledge, business and cooperation developments, culminating in pioneering pilot projects across the globe. Below you will find an overview of our pilot projects.
Monaco Pilot (2017 - 2022)
Like many European coastal resorts, Monaco’s marine life is struggling with the impact of climate change, coastal development, seawater pollution and over-fishing, which has led to a decline in the numbers of fish and shellfish. In close collaboration with AMPN, DShape and Boskalis engaged in a pioneering, 3D-printed reefs pilot project. After careful design sessions, the Monaco Pilot saw the successful installation of six printed reef modules in Monaco, marking the start of the monitoring phase for biodiversity and ecological development.
Panama project (2020 - 2022)
The Panama Pilot aimed at comparing, under identical conditions, four artificial reef types which are based on different design philosophies: active (MAT) versus passive (non-MAT) systems, as well as modular versus non-modular designs. The designs included the in-house designed Endless Reef units, Coralive.org minidomes, ReefSystems MOSES units and ReefBall units. The pilot was the product of a natural collaboration between Boskalis Panama, Reef2Reef, Commercial Diving Panama and the Maritime University of Panama to seek effective coral habitat restoration techniques in the face of coral reef decline in Panama.
REEFolution Kenya (2021 - ongoing)
The biodiverse coastal reefs of Kenya support artisanal fishing and tourism. Rapid population expansion and limited awareness have caused severe reef impacts due to practices such as blast fishing. To counterbalance this increasing environmental pressure, the REEFolution Kenya initiative was established to restore and stimulate a more sustainable use of coral reefs. Past damage is rehabilitated and reef resilience increased through active coral reef restoration.
In close collaboration with Wageningen UR and ReefSystems, Boskalis supported the purchase, transport and installation of 90 MOSES units at Shimoni, Kenya, to be used for coral restoration and habitat monitoring purposes. The ecological performance of these modular concrete units has been so impressive that ReefSystems has received subsequent grants and has expanded the site with an additional 1400 MOSES units placed.
Rotterdam Reef (2023 - 2025)
The Rotterdam Reef Project is a project of Rijkswaterstaat, Rotterdam Municipality, Reefy and Boskalis. Installed in the New Waterway, the project aims to assess whether an artificial – and sustainable – reef can protect the banks from the impact of waves generated by passing shipping. It focussed on the entire chain: from the production of the blocks to the monitoring of the reef. A special gripper was designed by Boskalis for moving and installing the blocks. With installation being a success, Reefy will monitor the ecological development of the Rotterdam Reef for the coming years. The Rotterdam Reef is the largest reef that Boskalis has installed to date.
Innovations for sustainability
What drives Boskalis to develop innovations
focusing on sustainability and ecology?
For more information about our Artificial Reefs Program, please contact Paul Peters
(Program Lead and Environmental Engineer).