Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Volvo creates extensive Living Seawall in Sydney Harbour to combat pollution and promote biodiversity

Volvo creates extensive Living Seawall in Sydney Harbour to combat pollution and promote biodiversity
May 3, 2019

Swedish car maker Volvo has partnered with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Reef Design Lab and North Sydney Council to create one of the world’s largest Living Seawalls at Milsons Point as a response to the impact of increasing urbanisation on coastlines.

Over the last 200 years more than half of Sydney’s vibrant marine habitats along the harbour foreshore have been replaced with man-made seawalls. These seawalls are typically flat and featureless and support lower biodiversity compared to the natural habitats they replaced.

The Living Seawall consists of 50 3D-printed tiles that have been designed to mimic the root structure of mangrove trees. They have been retrofitted to the existing seawall to help improve marine biodiversity and water quality.

Each tile features tiny nooks and crannies that give marine life a place to live and hide, just as they would in a natural mangrove ecosystem. This attracts filter-feeding organisms that absorb and filter out pollutants, such as particulate matter and heavy metals.

Within a week of installation oysters, molluscs, and filter-feeding organisms will begin colonising the Living Seawall, helping to combat the effects of urbanisation and pollution in our waterways.

Nick Connor, Managing Director of Volvo Car Australia, explained “we’ve lost 50% of the world’s mangrove forests, and in their place, we’ve built things like seawalls, which proliferate around Sydney Harbour. Tearing down the seawalls is not viable.

“There’s a Swedish word, omtanke, that means ‘caring’ and ‘consideration’. I think that really captures what we’re trying to achieve with the Living Seawall, and it sums up Volvo’s approach to sustainability in general. We’re always trying to rethink, reinvent, redesign for the better.”

To install the Living Seawall, Volvo partnered with North Sydney Council, the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, and Reef Design Lab, a Melbourne-based designer of marine habitat infrastructure.

North Sydney Mayor Jilly Gibson advised “these new habitat tiles on our seawalls have the potential to help rejuvenate Sydney Harbour by bringing more marine life back into our waters. I hope to see other harbourside councils follow our lead in supporting initiatives that have huge environmental benefits for our waterways.”

Alex Goad, Industrial Designer at Reef Design Lab, added “Volvo’s Living Seawall shows what can be done when we’re designing and building coastal structures around the world. It’s about making these structures as beneficial to the environment as possible.

“Living Seawall flips a harmful structure into a marine habitat and presents a unique opportunity to research which specific designs and geometries are the best to support the ecosystems in our oceans.”

Associate Professor Melanie Bishop from the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and Macquarie University, concluded “we are delighted to partner with Volvo, Reef Design Lab, and North Sydney Council on the Living Seawall project, which draws upon several decades of scientific research on greening Sydney Harbour.

“The comprehensive monitoring and evaluation program that accompanies the installation will provide important information on the environmental benefits of adding surface area and complexity to enhance the existing seawalls and will provide the basis for expanding to further seawall sites in Sydney.”

Related Articles

22nd April 2019 - New Zealand report prioritises environmental challenges

27th March 2019 - North Sydney Olympic Pool refurbishment needs another $30 million

22nd March 2019 - Rottnest Island supports initiative to reduce plastic waste

12th March 2019 - Australian Marine Conservation Society says research highlights the need for Queensland Government to cut farm pollution

21st February 2019 - BODY BIKE introduces world-first indoor cycling bike built from recycled plastic

12th December 2018 - Australian Marine Conservation Society demands Adani court admission of Great Barrier Reef pollution

24th November 2018 - Phuket launches ground breaking ‘No Foam No Plastic’ environmental initiative

27th February 2018 - Swamped with marine garbage, popular Bali beaches require massive daily clean up

29th January 2018 - Far North Queensland tourism operators back Great Barrier Reef plastic straws ban

27th January 2017 - Volvo Ocean Race to return to Australia

Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

Tim Batt Water Solutions

Tim Batt Water Solutions are at the very forefront of the commercial aquatic business in Australia, with over 30 years specific experience supplying and installing chemical control and dosing…

read more

Aquatics / Environment / Recreation / Technology / Venues


SeatGeek Asia Pacific

SeatGeek is a search engine and mobile-focused ticket marketplace that allows fans to buy and sell tickets for live events. As of August 2018, SeatGeek has exited the Australian, New…

read more

Entertainment / Sport / Technology / Ticketing / Venues


The P.A. People

The P.A. People is a specialist integrator and contractor in sound reinforcement, audio visual systems, performance lighting and production communications. Over its almost 50 year history the company…

read more

Entertainment / Events / Sport / Technology / Venues



At easyemployer we've come up with a software solution that manages one of your most important, and often most costly, business resources - your staff. We are helping 100s of clients to…

read more

Finance / Fitness / Technology



Technogym is the leading company in the Wellness and Fitness field all over the world. With 2,200 employees, 14 branches in Europe, U.S., South America, Asia  and Australia, Technogym exports its…

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness



Hidroplay welcomes you to the exciting world of children's Playscapes, waterslide's and Water Attractions. Appealing to families, Hidroplay increases patronage in your facility during those…

read more

Aquatics / Play / Recreation



Our team believes floors should be beautiful, comfortable, and engineered for safety, even when wet. Life Floor tiles meet six unique performance based standards: slip-resistance, impact absorption,…

read more

Aquatics / Play / Recreation / Safety / Surfaces



Track. Engage. Retain GreeneDesk is a suite of cloud based software solutions helping health clubs, leisure centres and swim schools to effectively track progression, improve customer engagement and…

read more

Aquatics / Billing / Education / Fitness / Technology


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business