An innovative eco-engineering project that aims to turn sea defences and other artificial structures into thriving marine habitats has won a major European Union award.
Ecostructure was one of three finalists for this year’s Better World award, which celebrates websites that encourage green initiatives.
The project brings together five leading universities in Wales and Ireland - University College Cork, University College Dublin, and Bangor, Swansea and Aberystwyth universities - to raise awareness of eco-engineering solutions in response to the challenge of coastal adaptation to climate change.
Dr Joe Ironside from the Institute of Biological and Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University is the Ecostructure Project Leader.
Speaking of the award, Dr Ironside said:
“One of the main goals of Ecostructure is to raise awareness of eco-engineering as an approach to producing greener, more biodiverse structures in the coastal and marine environments. The .eu Web Award recognises the skill and effort with which the Ecostructure team has developed online resources to inform, enthuse and assist our stakeholders in engaging with the eco-engineering approach to create a better world. We are very grateful for this award and the opportunities that it provides us to raise awareness further through the adverts at Brussels airport, the EURid video and the other publicity surrounding this event.”
The award was received by Amy Dozier from the SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine at University College Cork.
Speaking after the presentation by Sting, Amy said:
“Thank you so much, I am so honoured to receive this award on behalf of Ecostrcuture. I would like to the thank the entire consortium for the extreemely valuable work they do. This project has real heart, people believe in what we are doing to make space for wildlife in our coastal communities and to promote eco enginnering solutions to climate change adaptation.”
Ecostructure is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Cooperation Programme 2014-2020.
The project was awarded €3.25m of EU funding in 2017 to facilitate greater use of nature-based solutions to enhance the ecological value of artificial coastal structures along the Welsh and Irish coasts.
As part of the project, existing eco-engineered interventions from around the world have been tested in the Irish Sea and new designs created and attached to artificial structures such as sea defences to investigate their role in providing new habitats for marine life.
The project secured a further €1.61m by the EU in July 2020, to continue its work for a further 18 months.
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said:
“I would like to congratulate the team at Ecostructure for their success at the .eu Web Awards.
“Their receipt of the Better World Award is a huge sign of confidence in their pioneering approach towards eco-engineering.
“It is through innovative, collaborative efforts such as these that Wales can help respond to the risks posed by climate change – and I look forward to seeing their future successes.”
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath, T.D. said:
“I am delighted that the EU Ireland-Wales Ecostructure project has received such a significant European Union award under the Better World category. The Ecostructure project is a collaboration between University College Cork, University College Dublin, and Bangor, Swansea and Aberystwyth universities and the award is a tribute to these Universities working together under the EU funded Ireland-Wales programme. I would like to congratulate all those involved.
“Ireland recognises the critical importance of protecting our environment, as evidenced by the publication of an ambitious Climate Action Plan last year and the progress on the Climate Action Bill this year. We also recognise our shared responsibility, with our nearest neighbours, to protect our seas.”
Professor Colin McInnes, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Knowledge Exchange & Innovation at Aberystwyth University, said:
“On behalf of Aberystwyth University I would like to extend our warmest congratulations to everyone involved with Ecostructure on their success. Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing our planet and as a University, we are committed to undertaking collaborative, interdisciplinary research to deepen our understanding of the issues and explore potential solutions. The impact of climate change on our communities, habitats and everyday lives is ever more real, and raising the profile of the work that is being done to understand these changes is essential for their future sustainability.”
In August 2019 the team attached concrete tiles, made using 3D printing technology, to sea defences in Borth, Ceredigion.
Designed to recreate the nooks and crannies found on natural rocky habitats, the work was featured on BBC Wales Today.
The two other finalists in the Better World category this year were clevercities.eu and jonasproejct.eu.
The full .eu Web Awards 2020 ceremony was streamed live from the Teatro Verdi in Pisa, Italy, and can be viewed online here.
The presentation of the Better World award starts at 1:35 and features a performance of Fragile by Sting, from his album Nothing Like the Sun.
Announcing the winner, Sting said:
“Through our daily actions, we can all contribute to a better world. Thank you for inviting me to your virtual gala and congratulations to the winner and to all the finalists.”