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The modern-day seascape combines natural ecosystems with the expanding footprint of activities such as shipping, fishing, dredging, and sand extraction. The impact of these activities on ecosystems has often not been fully appreciated. However, holistic planning is now needed to reduce the ecological pressures on our seascapes.

Ecosystem-based design of the seabed and shoreline – seascaping – provides an excellent nature-based solution to achieve better ecological outcomes. Seascaping mimics natural processes and morphological dynamics. It aims to transform ‘ecological disruption’ into sustainable opportunities for society, the economy and ecology.

Seascaping involves not only dredging to restore the natural shape of the seabed – sand dunes on the seabed, rock ridges around breakwaters and scour protection in renewable energy projects – but also multi-disciplinary engineering to defend and maintain coastlines in natural ways with rockpools, mangroves, and mussel and oyster beds.


Habitat diversity
Seabed gradients make habitats more varied, with higher species richness, biomass and biodiversity as a result. Rockpools allow shrimp populations to thrive. Mussels and oysters bring back more biodiversity to our estuaries.

Project marketability
Upgrading biodiversity and overall sustainability significantly boosts social and political acceptance, streamlining not only permitting procedures but also the project scoping, execution and monitoring phases.

Higher productivity
Seascaping can enhance the biomass of economically valuable species such as fish, shellfish and lobsters, boosting fishing catches for the local community and improving their livelihoods. In man-made underwater landscapes, seascaping can provide crucial refuges for endangered species, while maximizing social benefits.

Ecological seascaping focuses on the overall human and natural ecosystem. It starts with a study of the existing underwater landscape in order to produce an integrated design.

Every underwater landscape is unique. So every project must be tailored to the local environment without losing sight of the overall picture.

Our network of partners and stakeholders means we have the capacity to combine seascaping with water
infrastructure and deliver cost-effective, sustainable outcomes. We also work closely with local commu-
nities and stakeholders. In research, pilot studies, tenders and projects, we share our insights, scientific
knowledge, and technical expertise as input for project development with our clients.

Ecological seascaping is a widely-used scientific concept. The first pilot study co-developed by Boskalis
was executed near the port of Rotterdam. It involved designing and creating two ecosystem-based sand
bars in a sand extraction site, in line with the natural sand ridges in the area. The project proved
that the environmental impacts of marine infrastructure can be minimized. The sand bars were stable and allowed for the long-term sustainable development of the ecosystem, without additional equipment mobilization and with minimal impact on the overall sand extraction process.

We look forward to implementing the same success formula in infrastructure projects around the world, from sandy to rocky environments and from dredging works to the creation of revetments, rock pools, and complex crevice and ledge habitats.

We have extensive knowledge and years of experience with seabed properties, vessel types, planning
and dredging. We also have the wide range of experts – in nature conservation, morphology, marine
ecology, and socio-economic studies – needed for any ecosystem - based scope.

Our seascaping approach can be used for almost any marine infrastructure project. With relatively
small changes, project designs can deliver increased environmental, societal, and economic benefits.

We are on hand to help with your new projects, partnerships and pilot studies. We can advise you from
the earliest design sketches through to the execution and monitoring phases of the project.