Reef Cubes and Habitiles

Falmouth Harbour has worked in collaboration with Cornish environmental charity Our Only World, Gwynt Glas Floating Offshore Wind Farm, Falmouth Town Council and ARC Marine to install sea wall habitiles and reef cubes on to the east wall of Church Street Car Park and foreshore.

What is the Falmouth reef cubes and habitiles project?

Harbour walls are generally quite flat with few places for animals to attach to and live within. Habitiles and reef cubes have  been designed to create more places for animals and plants to live and grow. It is expected this will increase the number of different plants and animals that can inhabit the wall and its surroundings, therefore increasing biodiversity, which is important as diversity within ecosystems increases their resilience.

Our thanks go to:

Our Only World who provided and collated funding from Sea-changers, Matthew Goode foundation for the installation of the habitiles

Gwynt Glas Floating Offshore Wind Farm for funding the purchase of Arc Marine reef cubes.

Natural England for providing funding to cover the baseline ecological survey completed by Cornwall Environmental Consultants.

Falmouth Town Council for providing funding to design & print the interpretation boards.

 

Why is biodiversity important?

Falmouth is home to a wide variety of habitats including seagrass, maerl, sand, mud and rocky shore. These Habitiles and reef cubes most resemble that of the rocky shore habitat which is sometimes replaced by man-made structures and may be increasingly lost due to sea-level rise.

As the surface texture of these structures resembles the rocky shore it will be interesting to see whether they attract similar plants and animals. More information is available here.

How do reef cubes and Habitiles contribute?

Habitiles and reef cubes are designed to withstand tidal forces whilst creating greater habitat complexity than traditional harbour walls, reef cubes also feature a central chamber which provides shelter for marine life and a built in rockpool on the top, which helps retain water at low tide.

They encourage settlement and colonisation to increase intertidal and marine biodiversity. Both structures are made from carbon-neutral concrete and have been tested to ensure they do not harm the marine environment. Both interventions have been installed on and around the harbour wall.

Why have you placed the habitiles and reef cubes off church street car park?

The primary reason for Falmouth Harbour is to deter harbour users from using the area to dry out and to lay up yachts and other vessels against the harbour wall. This is to be discouraged due to safety, anti-social, visual, and environmental concerns previously experienced such as reports of effluent from boats and safety concerns associated with attaching lines to carpark handrails.

There are secondary benefits to doing this by using nature friendly blocks and it presents an opportunity to monitor and gain more understanding of the use of habitiles and reef blocks along with traditional granite blocks to increase biodiversity in intertidal areas.

It also allows us to create further community awareness of the marine environment which works with Falmouth Town Council and their Motion for the Ocean Pledge.

Can you help?

You can complete your own survey. Please ensure you take care accessing the shore to view the Habitiles and reef cubes as it is slippery underfoot.

You can also help the marine environment in so many ways including:

  • Putting your litter in a bin so it doesn’t end up in the sea
  • Reducing waste by using a refillable bottle; there is a water fountain at the other side of the car park to the habitiles!
  • Avoiding harming sensitive habitats
  • Reducing your carbon footprint

Monitoring

A baseline biodiversity survey of the unaltered harbour wall and surrounding foreshore was undertaken in March 2023 to allow us to track the impact of these biodiversity enhancing measures.  We plan to complete regular surveys. Completed surveys and reports are provided below.

Community engagement

As part of a commitment to raising awareness, the Gwynt Glas floating offshore wind project team, is engaging with local schools, alongside Our Only World, to educate students about the importance of the marine environment, biodiversity, and renewable energy. The sessions are highlighting the importance of sustainable innovation and the associated regional career and business opportunities offered by floating offshore wind projects.

Find out more about Gwynt Glas click here.

Tiles from afar