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AquaForest Starts Construction of Mangrove Island

Posted on July 3, 2024

A new phase for AquaForest is dawning. After a year of meticulous preparation, during which Jan De Nul Group and its partners conducted feasibility studies and monitored local environmental and social aspects, we are now starting the actual creation and further development of the mangrove island. An important milestone for the project.

AquaForest is a demonstration project in the Guayas river delta in Ecuador. Here, Jan De Nul Group and its partners are focusing on the circular reuse of dredged material, which is a by-product of essential dredging activities in local waterways. They use this dredged material to create a new mangrove habitat on a new island to support local communities in the fight against climate change. The new mangrove habitat will also provide  a boost to local biodiversity and introduce many important ecosystem services, thus creating social and environmental benefits through Nature-based-Solutions.

Meanwhile, Jan De Nul Group mobilised the necessary equipment to start the construction of the mangrove island. The works will start this week. Once the island has been created, AquaForest will itself start planting part of the mangrove trees stemming from local nurseries. Natural propagation and growth of the mangrove trees will take care of the rest. In support of this natural process, Jan De Nul will create the ideal conditions for the growth of the mangrove trees by eco-engineering the island.

During and after the works, the AquaForest consortium will strive for collaboration with local communities, associations and researchers. Together, they will build, maintain and monitor the mangrove island.


During the preparatory phase of the project, the AquaForest partners conducted field studies to map all possible effects of the new mangroves, by monitoring, amongst other things, the following elements: waterway bed morphology, waves and currents, tides, sediment and water quality, fauna and flora and environmental DNA.

They extensively tested and examined the efficiency of different combinations of sediment types, growth status of mangrove trees and natural materials against erosion and wave attack.

At the same time, they conducted an information and interview campaign among local communities and citizens, associations and administrative organisations within the close vicinity of the project site. The AquaForest on-site team informed key stakeholders such as the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition, the El Morro Nature Reserve, the City of Guayaquil, the National Chamber of Aquaculture and the National Directorate of Waterways.

Along with AquaForest’s stakeholders, Jan De Nul Group, the ESPOL University of Ecuador, Belgian universities and international (research) organisations will, in the coming years, closely monitor the development and ecosystem services of the AquaForest mangroves. They will do so by setting up a diverse research and monitoring programme, taking advantage of a unique opportunity to study a mangrove system from its birth.

A unique collaboration for a unique project

Jan De Nul Group coordinates the project and realises it together with its partners Mantis Consulting, Haedes, South Pole, ESPOL University, Antwerp University, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the NGO Calisur. The Flemish Government is supporting the project financially through the Flemish International Climate Action Programme and so is IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) through the Blue Natural Capital Financing Facility (BNCFF) fund.


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