SUMMARY: The research will test geosynthetic landscape systems to support human development in tropical regions simultaneous to critical mangrove biological processes. The interconnected structural networks are intended to facilitate ecosystem recovery, dissipate catastrophic storm impact, mitigate erosion and enable large-scale building development to co-exist with restorative mangrove-type vegetation.

PROBLEM SPACE: Mangroves are being lost at a rate that exceeds the rainforests, forecasting a severe decline in biodiversity and associated ecosystem services. By losing protective vegetation, shoreline communities and conventional civil coastline structures are progressively exposed to damage and catastrophic failure from increasingly extreme weather conditions and sea level rise.

SOLUTION: We are developing computation that integrates interdisciplinary procedures into parametric models which will provide critical inter-scalar information on the dynamic behavior of mangrove landscapes for the design of new systems for coastline structures. The structures would engage environmental questions and requirements that span large ranges of physical and temporal scales, questions that have been disregarded in the development of conventional coastline structures, due to the previous inability to process the complex ecological and environmental performance parameters attendant to such landscapes.

At the present, we are investigating composite structural systems that emulate mangrove environments through incorporating compliant characteristics into human programmatic requirements. Our landscape simulations have resulted in a series of design criteria that are being used to develop next generation coastline structures. The ultimate goal is to capitalize on the complementary structural capabilities of engineered structures with compliant characteristics of mangrove networks, to ensure value and security of these coastline habitats. The long-term scientific goal is development of methods to predict the response of ecosystems to a series of interdependent structural systems that simultaneously support sustainable urban scale development along with flourishing indigenous flora and fauna, while dissipating dangers from extreme weather events and rising sea levels.