Designing a bio-sensitive visualisation for saltmarsh conservation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Design Manufacture and Engineering Man


Biodiversity and the effective preservation of natural resources is an
essential aspect of sustainable development. As an island nation, in the
United Kingdom cost-effective and environmentally sensitive
approaches to local coastal management are a particularly important
component of this equation. To this end, Siskin Asset Management Limited (SAML) has developed a system of coastal protection which
comprises sustainably available natural materials anchored on
shorelines. This structure then acts to capture mobile sediment and
promote re-vegetation of the existing coast to increase resilience to

There currently exists no means to accurately measure and monitor
how SAML's system affects biodiversity over time. The ability to
document and communicate the long-term impact of their system has
the potential to significantly influence the wide range of stakeholders
party to any installation decision. This includes coastal communities,
landowners, councils, and water and utilities providers amongst
others. Each installation presents unique requirements in terms of
environmental conditions, and conveying the way in which the system
can be adapted and configured to meet these is challenging.
This project will therefore utilise human-centred design techniques to
support the specification, generation and evaluation of a Biodiversity
Digital Twin (BioDT). This will be a physical representation of the
model that is augmented with digital information gathered from
sensors and measurements of the system when it is in situ. This will
provide an interactive and engaging demonstrator which describes
how biosystems and ecosystems can recover and grow post installation.
Helping SAML to evolve and improve their system while at
the same time conveying to clients, local authorities, industry and the
wider public government how such systems could be of benefit in other

The key case study that has been identified is an ongoing initiative at
the Morecambe Bay salt marshes. This is an important area for
wildlife, birdlife and marine habitats, and historical and future
reclamation exercises have the potential for significant biodiversity
net gains (BNGs). SAML have developed a new low profile of their
coastal erosion system (previous beach installations have been higher
profile) that would be ideal for such an application. However, salt
marshes are highly susceptible to 'drowning' and careful monitoring
of water, tide and protection levels is necessary for them to thrive.

In order to deliver an accurate and arresting digital twin, consultation
will take place with representative stakeholders from SAML's existing
customer base and those associated specifically with Morecambe Bay
to understand requirements. These will be used to identify a range of
environmental measures and to drive technical adaptations to the
erosion system. These will be installed and trialled on-site withsupport from SAML. In parallel, the physical-digital representation
will be created at the University of Strathclyde, using co-design
processes to evaluate and refine the configuration based on feedback
from multiple stakeholders. The result will be a novel desktop
demonstrator that shows how large-scale environmental installations
can be connected to critical biodiversity metrics and communicated
through engaging, immersive and interactive digital technologies.


10 25 50