EFIB Symposium Conclusions

The ecological crisis issued from the human activity ant its risk push us to  find solutions that go through the  understanding  of the laws of nature and its principles, the  stop of  the ongoing degradation and  the iniciation  mechanisms of restoration. As a society , we are experiencing a period of uncertainty, in which we perceive that the solutions could come from finding a  balance within our environment based on the sustainable management of our ecosystems, the restoration of their functionality and services, and the use of nature-based construction systems such as soil- and water- bioengineering techniques.

Soil and Water Bioengineering: is a discipline than combines technology with biology , making use of native plants and plant communities as construction material and erosion control  in degraded environments. The term “Engineering” refers to the use of technical and scientific data for constructive, stabilization and erosion control purposes and “bio”  because  the functions are related to living organisms, mainly native plants with biotechnical characteristics and with the purpose of restore  ecosystems and increasing the  biodiversity.

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During two days , participant from eleven countries have presented and discussed in Glasgow the possibilities offered by the technical discipline of Soil- and Water- Bioengineering to the ecological, economic, and societal challenges faced within a changing climate. The International Symposium on Soil- and Water- Bioengineering in a Changing Climate, held on the 7th and 8th of September 2017 has been organized by the  Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) in collaboration with the European Federation of Soil and Water Bioengineering (EFIB) and support from the ECOMED Erasmus+ project,

CONCLUSIONS

Excursion in the Flander Moss

Excursion in the Flander Moss

1-Nature-based approaches can offer sustainable solutions to cope with climate change mitigation and adaptation challenges Soil and Water Bioengineering are Natural Based Solutions that prove to be effective not only in normal but also in extreme situations   There is growing recognition that nature can help provide viable solutions that use and deploy the properties of natural ecosystems and the services that they provide in a smart, ‘engineered’ way.

The Soil and Water Bioengineering use the propriety of the root system to cohere and stabilized the soil  in order to use the plants as building and living material .  These nature-based solutions provide sustainable, cost-effective, multi-purpose and flexible alternatives for various objectives: Technical, ecological, landscape integration and socio-economics. It can be summarized that initiation of vegetation is a capable way of providing various ecosystem services such as erosion protection, aesthetic value, habitat provision and balanced local climate without neglecting water management issues. Soil and Water Bioengineering interventions using combined methods even with an important inert component give a clear contribution to Biodiversity and show a carbon sequestration rates similar to natural standars.

 

2-Advantages of soil and water bioengineering measures compared to conventional engineering methods include:

  • Longer and sustained functional development due to the development and regeneration ability of plants and plant communities,
  • the establishment of an more developed plant community in the frame of the natural vegetation succession, Increase in stability as the plants develop
  • Favourable response to disturbance through the natural ability of plants to adapt
  • Adaptation of plants to the forces to which they are subjected through their elasticity, resistance to pull-out and new succession lines
  • Increase in biodiversity and habitat functionality (ecology)
  • Enhancement of landscape (landscape aesthetics)
  • Support of socio-economic factors (tourism, local recreation)
  • Measures that are low-impact, use little energy and promote the self  development of nature (no regret measures

 

3-The process of developing a Bioengineering intervention give particular attention to try different work stages, in particular the characterisation stage where not only the problem, the process and the risk factors but also all local characteristics   are inventoried and evaluated .This evaluation conduct to the process of conception, that is followed by the construction and with particular relevance a  long term maintenance. The process of conception of an intervention relies strongly on the use of adequate software to characterize and conceptualize the intervention

Ecological engineering is a discipline that integrating  the ecology and the engineering concerned with the  management of ecosystems with a common goal to maximize the multitude of benefits to both man and the natural environment., Within this context, Soil and Water bioengineering is a specific discipline related to the Ecoengineering, combines techniques that use plants as living building materials, for: (i) natural hazard control (e.g., soil erosion, torrential floods and landslides) and (ii) ecological restoration, rehabilitation or nature-based reintroduction of species on degraded land, river embankments and disturbed environments. Project success requires both of these objectives to be reconciled. the natural hazard control with the ecological restoration.

 

4-In the Mediterranean Area, the aridity of the climate determinate particularities in the Soil and Water Bioengineering techniques related to related to the selection of both plant material and techniques. The Ecomed project is addressing the former challenges that will allow the Mediterranean Eco engineering sector, and more specific the Soil and Water Bioengineering Sector  to achieve a higher specialization level.by analysing the sector current needs, strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, by analysing existing soil and water bioengineering works,by improving the existing design routines and protocols, by reinforcing the sector by a know-how transfer strategy (generation of new interactional schemes and dynamics within the sector),by  generating an improved syllabus and sector specific training modules

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