Rotterdam Reef Successfully Installed for Nature and Shoreline Protection!

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    • Maritime

Rijkswaterstaat, the City of Rotterdam, Boskalis and Reefy are testing the Reefy artificial reef system to support nature restoration and conservation efforts in the tidal area of the river Meuse, as part of the “Groene Poort” or “Green Gate” project.

Reefy builts The Rotterdam Reef
The Rotterdam Reef © Reefy

Delft start-up Reefy is building a reef in the river Meuse for biodiversity and shoreline protection

After careful preparation and in close collaboration with all the partners, 17 Reefy modules were assembled underwater by Boskalis in under 3 days. The artificial reef is approximately 25 meters long and 3 meters high. This makes it possible to see its top layer during low tide.

The Rotterdam Reef

  • 17 Reefy ReefBlocks were successfully installed in the river Meuse. This completing the construction of the pilot sustainable living breakwater in the Port of Rotterdam
  • In this project, partners are testing an innovative nature-based wave barrier. This barrier not only protects the shores from large ship waves but also helps preserve and restore biodiversity
  • The living breakwater restores the intertidal environment and provides shelter for fish such as sturgeons and European eels migrating between the Atlantic Ocean and major rivers in Europe


The blocks are developed by the Delft innovative startup Reefy. Jaime Ascencio, CEO and co-founder of Reefy says: “We need to rethink marine infrastructure and include the right conditions for letting nature thrive. It is important that water and sediments can go through breakwaters, then those appropriate conditions will allow ecological foreshores to develop that can grow with sea level rise. The ReefBlocks provide this and the necessary complexity to boost life underwater. These eco-engineering solutions will be cheaper to maintain compared to traditional structures in the face of climate change.”

Leon Haines, CTO and Co-Founder of Reefy, adds: “The ecological development on the reef will be continuously monitored by us to see effects on the total improvement in ecosystem services, compared with the conventional solutions. Before the installation, the benchmark biodiversity measurements were taken by Reefy, and we expect the first ecological results of this transformational coastal defense project in a few months.”

De Groene Poort (The Green Gate)

Since the end of 2013, the City of Rotterdam, Rijkswaterstaat, the Port of Rotterdam and the World Wildlife Fund have been working together on sustainable, nature friendly riverbanks in the river Maas (river Meuse) in the densely populated and industrialised area. The project is called ‘De Groene Poort’ or ‘Green Gate’. To keep natural riverbanks in place and to protect them against the waves of ships and current, breakwaters are needed to create a foreshore. Rijkswaterstaat and the City of Rotterdam are looking for more sustainable solutions for this than the usual rock or stone dams. By testing these reef innovations in collaboration with Reefy, the City of Rotterdam and Rijkswaterstaat hope to find a resilient and sustainable solution to restore the natural values in the tidal area of the Maas River. Besides the Groene Poort, the program River as a Tidal Park is in progress to realize tidal parks in the delta. The City of Rotterdam is one of the partners in this program.

“The reef helps us to improve biodiversity, protect against flooding and make waterfronts more attractive with tidal nature. Close cooperation with a startup, a corporate and Rijkswaterstaat gives added value for all of us. Together we will improve the nature of the river delta in Rotterdam.”

Joep van Leeuwen, Senior Consultant Urban Development City of Rotterdam.

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