SPECIALIZATION PROCESS FOR THE BIOENGINEERING SECTOR IN THE MEDITERRANEAN ENVIRONMENT, Giménez MC,Fernandes JP,Mickovski S,Garcia RJL,Sangalli P,Tardio G, Editör, Fundación Conde del Valle de Salazar E.T.S.I. de Montes, Forestal y del Medio Natural. UPM, Madrid, ss.443-563, 2019
Soil and water bioengineering techniques rely on biological knowledge to build geotechnical and
hydraulic structures and to secure unstable slopes and banks. Whole plants or their parts are used as
construction materials to secure unstable sites, in combination with other (dead) construction material.
Thus, soil bioengineering does not replace traditional hydraulic or geotechnical engineering (e.g.
geotextiles, or concrete blocks), but complements and improves other technical engineering methods.
Unlike traditional engineering methods and approaches, soil and water bioengineering make allowance
for the environmental and ecological approach at the design and construction stages.
According to the EFIB (European Federation of Soil Bioengineering) soil bioengineering is a discipline
that combines technology biology, and sociology making use of plants and plant communities to help
protect and develop land uses and infrastructures, and contribute to landscape development, particular
in the domain of slope stability and erosion control.
The promotion and greater adoption of soil bioengineering in the Mediterranean ecoregion is the main
aim of the Erasmus + ECOMED project. This aim is being achieved by generating sector-specific
theoretical and practical materials and tools essential for the specialization process and enhancement
of this sector in the region of interest which is at the core of the ECOMED project strategy and
approach. The lack of specialized training, a collection of analysed case studies and shortage of
specialized staff in Mediterranean countries, makes it a necessity to develop training courses and a
handbook on soil and water bioengineering implementation, along with hazard assessment methods
and effective selection of methods specific to the Mediterranean environment.
The sector needs analyses made throughout the Ecomed project clearly showed the need for an
improved training offer as well as the need for case studies analyses and benchmark on examples.
This situation is well reflected within this handbook structure. Giving answer to the detected needs will
effectively support the specialization level of the bioengineering sector within the Mediterranean
In soil and water bioengineering, the use of organic materials is preferred, because parallel to the
development of the vegetation and its increasing stabilisation ability, these materials will rot and be
reincorporated in the natural biogeochemical cycles. Also preferred are native (autochthonous) and
site-specific plants, as they promote a biodiversity suited to the landscape. Until the plant communities
take over the stabilization role within the intervention area, the inert materials must provide the
necessary reinforcement. The stress transfer process between the inert and living material is eventually
achieved throughout the bioengineering work service life. In order to successfully attain the preceding
objective, the following analysis must be made:
-Analysis of the intervention area from an engineering point of view. For this purpose, traditional
geotechnical, hydraulic and structural analyses must be made. In this aspect, soil and fluvial
bioengineering projects are the same than traditional engineering projects.
- Botanical analysis of the intervention area. Analysis of the autochthonous vegetation and the
typical phytosociological dynamics present in the study area.
Analysis of the fauna present in the area (local and exotic).
Analysis of the processes favouring and hindering the recovery of the intervention area. Making
a justified and well based diagnosis of the problems present in the study area
- Selection of an effective strategy and approach for stabilising and improving the intervention
area. At this stage, the selection of appropriate soil and water bioengineering techniques is included.
A suitable and justified localisation of the different techniques is also very important.
In order to support the before mentioned tasks, this handbook is structured in different sections. Each
one offers useful contents for supporting the project and work decision making process. Hence, the
general framework and the processes analysis is shown in the module 1 ’Introduction to soil and water
bioengineering’. In modules 2 and 3, the necessary training for analysing the study area from both
geotechnical and hydraulic points of view is given. In the subsequent modules other important tools
are also included such as GIS, technical drawing, environmental assessment and landscape
The selection of the topics and the structure of this handbook reflect the disciplines necessary for
designing a successful soil and water bioengineering intervention.
Given the semi-empirical nature of soil bioengineering, the analysis of existing works and projects, the
know transfer and sharing the lessons learned are essential tools for improving the specialization level
of the project. This idea is also well represented within this handbook.
In general terms, this handbook could be seen as a good first step in the process of giving answer to
the Mediterranean bioengineering sector need