A Falmouth harbour wall that was sparse of wildlife is set to become a bristling habitat of marine flora and fauna due to the installation of ‘habitiles’ designed to increase biodiversity. The installation has been led by Cornish charity, Our Only World, with funding provided by grant making charities – The Matthew Good Foundation and Sea-Changers.
Our Only World have been working with Vicki Spooner of Falmouth Harbour Board, as well as the owner of the installation site, Falmouth Town Council and a local manufacturer to lead the installation of the tiles at the harbour. ARC Marine has manufactured the tiles locally, utilising waste products from granite and quarrying industries with concrete that has 91% reduced emissions when compared with ordinary cement, and are certified to ensure they do not leach any toxic material into the environment.
“A flat harbour wall doesn’t have the nooks and crannies which attract a diverse marine habitat and this is what the tiles aim to replicate. We’ll see seaweeds and algae making their home here which then provide shelter and food for small invertebrates, which in turn become a food source for larger animals. Small actions, like this project, when multiplied can make change and a positive difference to our oceans. Our Only World is a not-for-profit registered charity, we are all volunteers and hence our overheads are minimal. We are passionate about protecting our oceans for future generations.”
Tina Robinson – Our Only World
The project first came to the attention of the Matthew Good Foundation in February 2022, when Our Only World applied to “Grants for Good” – a fund from the John Good Group that is managed by the Foundation. Out of more than 400 applications, five projects were shortlisted to receive a share of £10,000 – with the final amounts for each organisation decided in a vote by John Good Group employees. The project proved popular with voters, and the Foundation awarded Our Only World £2,500 which funded a large proportion of the project.
“Our Only World is a fantastic small, local charity that could pave the way for more like it throughout the UK. Tina is so passionate about our oceans and has worked incredibly hard to set up partnerships to install and monitor the project. Research shows that after one to two years, living seawalls could already be supporting at least 36% more species than plain, unmodified seawalls. I’m confident that now this wall has been created, our Only World will be able to expand the project to other parts of the UK.”
Michelle Taft – Executive Director, Matthew Good Foundation
Marine conservation charity, Sea-Changers, also provided a grant to help fund the project. Sea-Changers provides grants specifically for marine conservation projects all over the UK. This project was funded through their Main Grants Fund which runs twice a year and allocates grants of up to £2,500 to a variety of conservation projects including ones like this, which focus on improving and restoring marine and coastal habitats.
“We were delighted to fund this project and we are very much looking forward to seeing the habitat and biodiversity gains that unfold. If the concept proves successful we will hope to be able to fund more projects of this nature in harbours all around the UK”
Rachel Lopata – Founder, Sea-Changers
This is not the only project that Sea-Changers and the Matthew Good Foundation have supported in unison. They have both also recently provided funding for Clean Ocean Sailing – an organisation working to remove plastic from marine environments around the coast of Cornwall.
The living wall is an innovative idea. Our Only World’s living seawall project was inspired by Living Sea Walls Australia when they became finalists in The Earthshot Prize in 2021. With only a handful of similar projects around the world so far, monitoring the impact the installation makes here in the UK is a fundamental part of the project. In March this year an ecological survey of the harbour wall was completed to establish a baseline level for biodiversity, and the organisers aim to repeat this process again next year to monitor whether biodiversity increases, and even involve local school children along the way.
Our Only World are now planning on installing tiles at Mevagissey and Port Issac– and the charity hopes to eventually spread living walls right around the UK coastline.