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Could your business help to restore Yorkshire’s coastal habitats?

Think of Yorkshire’s unique coastline and you might think of towering cliffs with roaring seas below, sandy beaches on a summer’s day, or spotting charismatic wildlife as you go for an afternoon stroll. The coastline has been part of our culture for thousands of years; building our industries, inspiring our art, and welcoming us for holidays. As much as it has influenced us, we have influenced it, too.

Over the last few hundred years, we have actively changed the shape of our coastline with harbours, sea walls, rock armour, and groynes. All of these structures are vital to support businesses and seaside communities, but they have also reduced the availability of important coastal habitat.

The Concrete Coast project, led by the Yorkshire Marine Nature Partnership (YMNP) is exploring how these habitats can be restored, without changing or impacting the integrity of coastal infrastructure. One of the ways we can do this is by adding artificial rock pools and texture to structures. The pools retain water at low tide providing the perfect place for limpets, anemones, small crabs and even juvenile fish, to wait until the tide comes back in. Adding textured surfaces, both inside the pools and directly onto a smooth structure like a wall, encourages marine algae to grow and allows wildlife to hide amongst the crevices.

Most artificial habitats are made from concrete and steel – much like the infrastructure they are attached to. There are many reasons for this, including the availability and relative low cost of materials, but they are also highly durable in the often dynamic and harsh coastal environment.

We’re collaborating with a wide range of partners to examine options for restoring intertidal habitat but we’re also striving to ensure that whatever we add to the marine environment will have a net positive impact in the long-term. As part of this work, we’re interested in exploring how biorenewable materials could be used to create artificial habitats and how carbon capture solutions could reduce the impacts of well-known materials, like concrete.

Some initial tests elsewhere suggest that products like Hempcrete could provide similar results to traditional concrete, and other researchers have tested innovative materials made from coffee grounds, but it is still a relatively unknown area of investigation.

We’re looking to connect with businesses and organisations engaged in the biorenewable/bioeconomy sector to share expertise and explore whether sustainable materials could help to restore coastal habitats. If you’ve got some ideas to share or if you’re just interested in finding out more, it would be great to hear from you!

Please contact Heather Davison-Smith (YMNP Development Officer) heather.davison-smith@eastriding.gov.uk

Read more about the Concrete Coast project on our website or follow us on Twitter @YorksMarineNP