The Living Seawalls team

Revive Our
Oceans Finalist

Australia

Living Seawalls

As sea levels continue to rise coastal communities are at serious risk from flooding and disruption. Sea defences now ring half the shorelines of our major cities. But these defences can be devastating for marine life, depriving it of food and shelter. Living Seawalls, a project started in Sydney Harbour, has a solution.

By fitting artificial marine-friendly habitats to existing structures, it is helping marine life thrive

Rising sea levels are a particularly acute problem in Australia where over 80% of the population lives in the coastal zone. But while sea defences protect shorelines, they are often flat structures, devoid of shelter for organisms like fish, invertebrates, and seaweed.

Living Seawalls is a flagship program of the Sydney Institute of Marine Science. Its habitat panels, designed to mimic natural formations like rock pools and mangrove roots, can be fitted to new or existing sea defences. The project is a collaboration between creative designers and marine ecologists. As a result, life has found its way back to the Sydney shorelines.  

Since becoming an Earthshot Prize Finalist, the Living Seawalls team have enjoyed a significantly increased global profile including an audience with Australian PM Scott Morrison and featuring on Cate Blanchett’s Climate of Change podcast. They have also continued to win commissions around the world including two recent UK projects, as well as expansion of the Sydney Harbour project supported by a recent AUD$4.5 million grant from the New South Wales Government.

With Global Alliance Member Herbert Smith Freehills’ support they are on track to spin out from the Sydney Institute of Marine Science to be an independent business by end of 2022, allowing them to scale up to meet the increased global demand. At the beginning of 2022 DP World committed £500,000 to integrate Living Seawalls into their global network of ports.

THE EARTHSHOT PRIZE 2021 WINNERS & FINALISTS

The Earthshot Prize