Biodegradable Elements for Starting Ecosystems (BESE) grids are another UK first, also installed in phase 3 of the North Portsea Island Defence Scheme.
The 3D mesh grid structures are used for habitat improvement and act as a temporary structure to start ecosystem restoration. The grids are made entirely out of a waste product, potato starch, and give damaged ecosystems the structure needed to support the colonising and growth of saltmarsh plants.
Once established, the ecosystem provides a structure on its own and the grids breakdown, fully biodegrading within 5 to 10 years, leaving behind established saltmarsh plants.
Saltmarsh vegetation can be found on the margins of the harbour, where at low tide they’re exposed. They’re home to a rich variety of fish and invertebrates and provide essential feeding, breeding and habitat for many species of birds within the harbour.
In recent years saltmarsh plants have been declining within the harbour and the introduction of BESE grids starts the restoration of 200m2 of this important habitat. The effectiveness of this small trial area is being monitored with a view to learn and adapt for future use on a larger scale.