At first BESE-elements® present a temporary structure and protection for organisms. After a certain time, when sufficient adult organisms built up a structure on their own BESE-elements® break down and the organisms establish and enlarge their natural structure.
Currently BESE-elements® are used to stimulate the recovery of natural mussels beds and oyster reefs in Europe, USA and Australia. Other pilot projects include the restoration of salt marsh vegetation, sea grass, mangroves, submerged aquatic vegetation, reed beds, coral reefs and water purification. Since the structure is modular a variety of shapes can be customised based on the ecosystem needs and adjusted depending on the outcome of the pilot projects.
To test the applicability of BESE-elements in wetland settings, a consortium consisting of the developers, scientists, manufacturers and end users is now collaborating in the project “Bridging Thresholds”. The research evolves around multipurpose Biodegradable Elements for Starting Ecosystems (BESE) that temporarily facilitate habitat modifiers, thereby bridging critical thresholds and enabling ecosystem development in degraded wetlands, thus creating a viable product for global applicationTogether with royal NIOZ, the material is currently being tested for its applicability in the restoration of coastal ecosystems (mussel beds, oyster reefs, saltmarshes, mangroves and seagrass beds) in pilot projects in the Netherlands, USA, Singapore, Mexico, Bonaire, Sweden, Finland and the UK.
Radboud University, Nijmegen, is testing how structures made from biodegradable potato waste-derived starch might be used to restore marine ecosystems as part of the MERCES project. Aim of the study is to determine whether the introduction of mussel beds in BESE-elements improves for the success of seagrass restoration measures. A large scale field experiment was setup in March 2017 at the Wadden Sea island of Griend in the Netherlands to study the facilitating effects of mussel beds (Mytilus edulis) on seagrasses (Zostera marina) planted behind the mussel beds. Biodegradable structures were used for the introduction of both the mussel beds and patches of seagrass. The experiment is a collaborative effort between MERCES, the Local Authority in Griend, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research Domain for Applied and Engineering Sciences (TTW) (previously the Technology Foundation STW) and is being conducted by Radboud University Nijmegen, Bureau Waardenburg, Netherlands Institute of Sea Research (NIOZ), Groningen University and the Fieldwork Company, Groningen