A large part of the world's population lives and works in areas along coasts, lakes and rivers. This is possible because of hydraulic infrastructure works. However, these infrastructure works are likely to interfere with the environment. Moreover, they are supposed to keep on functioning for many years.
Society and environment are changing rapidly. Sustainability and adaptability are therefore important characteristics of hydraulic infrastructure. These characteristics are central to Building with Nature (BwN), an innovative approach to hydraulic engineering.
Starting from the natural system and making use of nature's services, BwN aims to meet society's needs for infrastructure and to stimulate nature development at the same time. One example of nature's services is the sediment transporting capacity of water. Another is a mangrove forest that breaks incoming waves, thereby preventing erosion of the coastline.
Including nature in infrastructure designs enables flexibility, adaptability and extra functionalities. Also new natural services are created such as food supply or space for leisure activities. Often at lower costs than with traditional engineering solutions.
This is an example of Building with Nature. Mangroves protect the coastline. Their roots keep the soil in place. More important, the trees stop the waves from attacking the shoreline which counters erosion.