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Shelving the Coast

Natural Enterprise and Island 2000 have always had a particular interest in combining the themes of environment, community and arts in exciting collaborative projects. ‘Shelving the Coast’ is just such a one! Using its experience in climate policy and practice (having written the Climate Change Adaptation Report for the Island), Natural Enterprise has come up with an experimental project to test a ground-breaking and innovative idea.

Ian Boyd at Natural Enterprise explains, ‘Coastal squeeze is a real issue for maritime wildlife trapped between rising sea levels and hard sea defences -there is just nowhere to go…but UP! And that is just what the project aims to investigate – whether it is possible to create artificial shelves at critical heights in the tidal regime, to catch the right sediment and create stable ecological communities that can only exist given a particular pattern of inundation and exposure?’

Natural Enterprise has recently been awarded funding by APE UK (Artists Planet Earth) to carry out the ‘Shelving the Coast’ project, one of 300 projects and awareness-raising initiatives around the world that combat climate change and develop local resilience and solutions to climate injustice. The project will work with award-winning environmental artists Eccleston George who have already successfully trialled artificial stonework under marine conditions. The Coastal Shelves themselves will be designed to incorporate interpretive cues and stories and the decoration and shape of the outer structure will grow from workshops with local schools. The project team will work with local schools from the outset so that curriculum links can be established with teachers at an early stage and visits to the site planned and programmed into the term timetable.

The plan is to work on designs and prototypes over the winter 2012/13 and have the first set of shelves fitted at a location along the Solent coast of the Island by March 2013. This will see them put in place in time for maritime wildlife’s peak spawning time in spring.

Ian Boyd continues, “We will be monitoring carefully throughout the rest of 2013 to understand how the shelves respond to the tidal forces and how the wildlife around them chooses to colonize and the designs will be tweaked and refined and new locations prepared to roll out Shelving the Coast in 2014 on a grander scale. Of course this all depends on whether the project works! But whatever the results, it will be a fascinating adventure into the realm of artificial marine habitats from which we can only learn more!”

We are supported by Artists Project Earth

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