Dr Alice Twomey – Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Queensland
From grey to green: using seagrass instead of seawalls to keep our shorelines where they are
As rising sea-levels threaten coastal communities, people have turned from costly infrastructure to seagrass for coastal defence. But most research has stuck to testing similar coasts, grasses and soils.
Dr Alice Twomey (The University of Queensland) and her colleagues have discovered features about a previously untested seagrass that will be important for erosion work.
“If coastal managers want to include seagrass meadows in their erosion mitigation strategies, we need to know which species will reduce erosion in what areas to get the most benefit and value for money from the project,” says Dr Twomey.
The untested seagrass species, with its unique root structure, did not in fact reduce erosion as expected. This work will help coastal managers better prioritise restoration methods for our coastlines.
Associate Professor Katherine O’Brien says that “a better understanding of how green infrastructure works is important for sustainable development” into the future. Dr Twomey emphasises that despite the ‘negative’ result for the seagrass, this is “the next step towards understanding the limitations of specific seagrass species for stabilising sediments.”
Dr Alice Twomey works with colleagues including Assc Prof. Katherine O’Brien, Dr David Callaghan, Dr Megan Saunders, Dr Tjeerd Bouma and Dr Qiuying Han