Prepared by Prof. Francesca Porri & Dr Kerry-Ann van der Walt
OBJECTIVE OF BRIEF
The purpose of this briefing note is to provide an in-depth overview on ongoing research pursued by researchers at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (NRF-SAIAB) on nature-based co-creations as ecological engineering solutions for urban coastal environments. The overview of this innovative research was recently published in the Cambridge Prisms series: Coastal Futures in 2023: “Eco-creative nature-based solutions to transform urban coastlines, local coastal communities and enhance biodiversity through the lens of scientific and Indigenous knowledge”, which outlined the ongoing Indigenous Marine Innovations for sustainable Environments and Economies (IMIsEE) project. The briefing note further highlights key elements of the IMIsEE project such as its aspiration to sustainable, inclusive and equitable eco-engineering solutions, forged by a deep collaborative partnership between scientists, members of a local rural community and maritime industry, and its potential impact on coastal environments, communities and knowledge systems.
Research on ecological engineering is on the rise worldwide aiming at the rehabilitation and restoration of impacted environments and the IMIsEE project, an initiative funded by the South African National Research Foundation and hosted by the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB), is fully embedded within this framework to innovatively use Indigenous knowledge and practices to counteract the negative impacts of coastal armouring by improving the biodiversity value of marine urban habitats. Embedded in a rural community setting, and merging innovation and natural materials with the traditional African artisanal practice of weaving, the project is set to revolutionise the coalescence of scientific research and Indigenous knowledge, with the specific focus on enhancing the sustainability of coastal ecosystems in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa and ultimately increase the biodiversity value of urban coastlines.