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May Jun 2015 Marina World

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ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT Mangrove plants sprouting up. The shape of the fringe will create a lush shoreline. present recommendations to the developer about field or numerical modelling studies, I stress the ones that will be required as part of a proper environmental impact study, but are also valuable to improve the engineering design and cost estimate at the planning stage. In other words, those basic studies are not part of the permitting budget but part of the design budget. Proactive environmental design Proactive environmental design means including environmental features as part of the marina project. They are design elements that add value to the aesthetics or reduce costs, as much as they provide benefits of habitat creation and protection of native or threatened vegetation. Solutions may include the use of sloped vegetated shorelines or the creation of landscaped stormwater retention and filtering areas. Habitat creation and protection of ecological functions are key environmental considerations. Interesting opportunities for environmental design can be found when they reduce costs of fill, dredging and shoreline structures. Setting aside waterfront areas as environmental features, either by keeping them undisturbed or recreating a living shoreline, reduces the cost of new construction. Where fill is expensive, creating an intertidal flat with nonstructural material is much more cost-effective than reclaiming to a safe construction elevation. Rock revetments combined with native vegetation can be significantly less expensive to build and maintain than vertical walls. Small islands with intertidal shorelines, lagoons and rocky shorelines can be used for dredge material use and wave protection. Creating a zone along the waterfront with varying elevations and features can be used as part of a sea level rise adaptation strategy. These and other features can be used to create value to the marina project. They are (or can be designed to be) beautiful landscape features, public boardwalks, resort amenities, spaces for active or passive recreation, educational opportunities, etc. Environmental design also results in enhancing a sense of place that is authentic and true to the surrounding natural environment. Practical challenges One of the challenges to incorporating environmental design elements is the use of space. Space necessary for environmental features (such as sloping shorelines) reduces navigable water area and/or upland available for sale. From a narrowly defined point of view (or spreadsheet-only analysis), nonrevenue generating area should be reduced. But from a holistic planning and design value, it is well known that adequate open spaces and common areas are needed and can add significant value to the whole. To some extent, this is a matter of attitude. In a waterfront area, a placeappropriate and inexpensive solution can be a mangrove fringe with elevated boardwalks, which also happens to have significant ecological value. A different attitude towards environmental issues may open the eyes to these types of opportunities. This is not to underestimate the fact that in the past it has been very difficult to include environmental features in marina design projects. I know more projects where environmental design features were proposed and not built than projects where they were. But times are changing. The rate of success is increasing rapidly with time. It is more common now for clients to embrace environmental restoration, habitat creation and conservation spaces within a project, as part of a value added framework. Design by example When master planning the launch of a new phase at a high-end resort in the Cayman Islands, our client immediately embraced a mangrove restoration strategy. This was particularly interesting in the context of the development history of this particular property. When researching the history of studies, design documents and environmental impact studies, I found that a mangrove shoreline design had been proposed by ATM over ten years ago but that the solution was not adopted. Now, a hurricane damaged mangrove buffer area is proposed to be restored and integrated as a key amenity of the very luxurious resort project. This was proposed for the value, not as a negotiation strategy. Another recent experience includes adding environmental features to an existing plan. The resort developers had a plan and permit for a marina by the previous owner of the property but, when revisiting the project in an integrated manner, the team unveiled the value of created mangrove shoreline features as significant enhancement to the landscape design, authentic island feel and privacy. And by the way, it made the approval of the environmental permit modification so much easier and we avoided unnecessary fill and reduced the cost of the shoreline structures. This project is now under construction. - May/June 2015 43

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