Permeable dams



Permeable dams used as coastal defenders. This is a cost-effective progressive and natural way to strengthen coastal resilience. This technology has been successfully implemented in countries like Indonesia.

Article:  and

Sustainability challenge:

Over the past 50 years, mangrove forests and the wetland ecosystems have been disappearing, thus making the coast more vulnerable to disasters. Most governments look at engineering solutions like dykes and seawalls, which are expensive, or they look at mangrove restoration, which is difficult and time-intensive.


  • Coastal residents and business owners
  • Governments implementing cost effective coastal resilience measures
  • International NGO’s like Wetland International
  • Local coastal communities
  • Coastal ecosystems

Process of implementation:

The dams are built on site using local material like bamboo and branches, and have permeable, artificial “roots”. These roots dissipate the strong wave energy and reduce the impact of disasters. This also helps young mangrove forests grow and expand. Implementing this technology successfully requires the right education and design, government support, local community support and small monetary investment. This process has been successfully implemented in Java, Indonesia, where it has also supported community development by protecting both the land/coast and the shrimp farms. Similar biomimicry initiatives have been implemented in the Netherlands, India and the United States.



2 thoughts on “Permeable dams

  1. I wonder if the dams would completely block access to mangrove forests for kayakers and fisherman? Might be an obstacle to getting communities to approve. But it’s an awesome idea!


    • Hey! Thanks for your comment. The dams can be designed to enable necessary movements. In Indonesia they have sufficient passageway for shrimp farming and fisherman, while still protecting the environment and the coastal communities. The pictures in the article give you a better picture of the passages that exist.


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