published on 12 June 2019 in earth
A floating forest to protect the coasts
The worsening and frequency of extreme weather events has stimulated the ingenuity of a team of civil engineers at the University of Queensland, in Australia, who have devised a Floating Forest to protect coasts from wind and waves. It is an artificial barrier invented to prevent coastal erosion and protect businesses and infrastructures in the event of cyclones and storms, just as forests defend land from bad weather and erosion.
What differentiates this project from other protective artificial barriers is that, for the first time, it combines breakwater elements with windbreak structures. The Floating Forest consists of a concrete deck tilted upstream to allow a wave run-up; the structure dissipates the waves’ energy, just as a lorry safety ramp can slow a speeding lorry on steeply sloping roads. A series of plastic and concrete tubes on top of the deck form the forest of “trees”, which have flexibility and stability characteristics capable of providing resistance to the strength of the gusts of wind, thus reducing their speed.
The full scale project is expected to be about one kilometre in length with tubes up to 20 metres tall. The idea for the future is to build, after suitably testing the structure, a floating forest in places worst hit by strong cyclone seasons, such as Bangladesh, Mozambique, Taiwan and the Philippines.