Harvesting Nature's Resilience: Innovations in Dune Restoration

Marram grass is a crucial plant species that plays a vital role in coastal ecosystems. The partners in the SUSANA project examine the potential of marram grass to contribute to dune restoration and dune protection.
12 February 2024

A Deep Dive into Coastal Resilience

The Belgian coast, with its dynamic dunes, stands as a testament to the intricate dance between vegetation and sand. The Sustainable Use of Sand in Nature-based Solutions (SUSANA) project's latest endeavors shed light on the pivotal role of marram grass, a dune-building powerhouse, and explore innovative strategies for dune restoration and protection.

Unravelling the secrets of marram grass

  • Ecosystem Engineers: Marram grass is not just a plant; it's an architect of its environment. This "ecosystem engineer" is crucial for dune formation, offering a natural bulwark against storms and flooding
  • Research Revelations: Our comprehensive study identifies 36 locations along the Belgian coast where marram thrives in diverse soil conditions. By analysing 93 sand samples for grain size and organic content, we're uncovering the substrates conductive to its growth, paving the way for sustainable dune engineering solutions.

Innovative Experiments and Insights

  • Dredging for Dunes: In a groundbreaking field experiment, alternative substrates from dredging operations were tested for their ability to support marram grass growth. Initial observations are promising, setting the stage for erosion resistance tests and potentially revolutionising dune construction practices.
  • Storm Tide Studies: Leveraging a strom spring tide event, we measured dune profiles before and after erosion using cutting-edge iPhone LiDAR scanning. This pilot study highlights the slope's role in prediciting erosion, offering valuable insights for future coastal defence strategies.

Towards a Greener Future

  • The DUNEVEG Model: Spearheaded by the University of Ghent in collaboration withProf. Reijers from Utrecht University, this innovative model is being fine-tuned topredict marram grass growth based on sediment organic matter, marking a significantleap forward in our understanding of dune dynamics.

Join Us on This Journey

As we continue to delve into the secrets of dune resilience, your support and curiosity fuelour progress. Stay tuned to Blue Cluster's news section for more updates on our quest to harmonize human development with nature's wisdom. 


The SUSANA Project Team

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