Using dredge material to create mangrove forests – AquaForest by Jan De Nul

Mangroves are like the guardians of our planet. Not only do they absorb CO2 at an impressive rate, but they also protect the coasts and filter the water. Plus, they are a hotspot for biodiversity. Jan De Nul, together with its partners, is currently working on the AquaForest project in Ecuador. There, they will create a new mangrove forest using dredged material from the access channel of Guayaquil.

Jan De Nul photo

“AquaForest is a Nature-based-Solutions Living Lab. In this project, we will restore mangrove forests by making circular and sustainable use of dredged sediments,” said Vicky Stratigaki, Senior Project Engineer Development & Conceptual Design, Jan De Nul.

“In 2018, we signed a 25-year concession contract to carry out maintenance dredging in the access channel to the port of Guayaquil in Ecuador. During the start-up of the project, we were looking for a good location to dispose the dredged material,” added Jelle Evenepoel, Lead Engineer Marine Environmental Department, Jan De Nul.

The area in Ecuador encounters challenges like coastal floods and erosion, creating safety problems along the coast.

“To counter this, one could choose to build a dyke out of ‘hard’ materials. But we don’t do that here. Instead, we opt for ‘soft’ measures and for a solution that we also find in nature: mangrove forests. They are a natural coastal protector and thus a Nature-based-Solution,” said Vicky.

The project is subsidised by Departement Omgeving (Flemish Government) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

AquaForest is further supported by the G-STIC Climate Action Programme 2022.