IBERS research wins national industry award for innovative design

A RESEARCH Project led by Aberystwyth University’s IBERS has won a national industry award for incorporating biodiversity benefits into engineered developments.

The competition was run by CIRIA (the Construction Industry Research and Information Association), a non-profit organisation that links science with the construction industry. Their BIG (Biodiversity Interest Group) Challenge called for developers to incorporate one biodiversity enhancement into each new development or construction site.

IBERs PhD student Ally Evans led the project, a collaborative effort between herself, Dr Pippa Moore (IBERS), Dr Louise Firth (Southampton University), Marine Ecological Solutions Ltd, Professor Steve Hawkins (Southampton University), Gwynedd County Council, rock-drilling company SMS Wales, and KESS (Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships).

(Left to Right) Liz Morris, Director at Marine Ecological Solutions Ltd, Ally Evans, IBERS Aberystwyth University and Tony Juniper, environmentalist and BIG Challenge keynote speaker

(Left to Right) Liz Morris, Director at Marine Ecological Solutions Ltd; Ally Evans, IBERS Aberystwyth University; and Tony Juniper, environmentalist and BIG Challenge keynote speaker

As part of her PhD, looking at coastal defence structures as surrogate habitats for natural rocky shores, Ally and her project partners trialed artificial rock pools as a biodiversity enhancement in a granite breakwater at Tywyn, Gwynedd. Projects such as this are crucial at a time when coastlines are experiencing rising and stormier seas because they becoming essential to counter the substantial negative impacts to the natural environment.

The awards ceremony – held at The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew on 14 October -saw Ally collect the award for “Most Innovative Design” along with industry partner Liz Morris (Director at Marine Ecological Solutions Ltd.) on behalf of the project team.

Tony Juniper, leading environmental campaigner, gave a keynote, concluding that “these awards are going to shine a light on excellence that’s already out there and once we begin to show what’s possible we will gain momentum.”

Commenting on their success Ally said;

“We’re all overjoyed by the level of excitement surrounding our work amongst the construction industry. This has been a tremendous opportunity to raise the profile of our research and we’ve got lots of exciting possibilities for future work. We know that the way to get our ideas out there and implemented is to link into industry, so we’re really grateful to CIRIA for creating these valuable links”.

The design, initially conceived by Dr Louise Firth and based on research funded by Marine Ecological Solutions Ltd. and KESS (Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships), was praised for its simplicity and innovation and their case study was also credited for its monitoring plan and rigorous evidence base for the measurement of success.