Soil and water bioengineering: practice and research needs for reconciling natural hazard control and ecological restoration

Freddy Rey, Carlo Bifulco, Gian Batista Bischetti, Frank Bourrier, Giovanni De Cesare, Florin Florineth, Frank Graf, Mike Marden, Slobodan B. Mickovski, Chris Pillips, Klaus Peklo, Jean Poesen, David Polster, Federico Preti, Hans Peter Rauch, Pierre Raymond, Paola Sangalli, Guillermo Tardio, Alexia Stokes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)
289 Downloads (Pure)


Soil and water bioengineering is a technology that encourages scientists and practitioners to combine their knowledge and skills in the management of ecosystems with a common goal to maximize benefits to both man and the natural environment. It involves techniques that use plants as living building materials, for: (i) natural hazard control (e.g., soil erosion, torrential floods and landslides) and (ii) ecological restoration or nature-based re-introduction of species on degraded lands, river embankments, and disturbed environments. For a bioengineering project to be successful, engineers are required to highlight all the potential benefits and ecosystem services by documenting the technical, ecological, economic and social values. The novel approaches used by bioengineers raise questions for researchers and necessitate innovation from practitioners to design bioengineering concepts and techniques. Our objective in this paper, therefore, is to highlight the practice and research needs in soil and water bioengineering for reconciling natural hazard control and ecological restoration. Firstly, we review the definition and development of bioengineering technology, while stressing issues concerning the design, implementation, and monitoring of bioengineering actions. Secondly, we highlight the need to reconcile natural hazard control and ecological restoration by posing novel practice and research questions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1210-1218
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date18 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2019


  • eco-engineering
  • natural disasters
  • soil bioengineering
  • geotechnical engineering; transportation; building information modelling; earthworks; buried services
  • vegetation
  • ecosystem services
  • benefits
  • biodiversity
  • erosion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Engineering
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Materials Science
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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