Slope Protection using Bioengineering
Rain in the Philippines is very intense and causes construction activity problems. Exposed cut slopes and fill materials are susceptible to erosion due to strong rains during the months of June to December. Clean–up and slope
repairs add very much to construction cost and construction delays.
The common practice in the Philippines in slope protection is by concrete rip-rap, stone masonry or sodding. Concrete protection for exposed slopes is very expensive, and some cases may not be environmentally compatible. Sodding is a slow process and has to be done months before the rainy season (summer months) which entails so much maintenance costs. In cases of unexpected heavy rains, water flow simply washes off the young unstable plants, causing severe erosion and more expense on repetitive planting.
In cases where applicable, the use of coco fiber net and other coir-based erosion control products is a viable means of controlling soil erosion both from an economic and technical point of view. Placing coconut fiber erosion control materials can be done anytime and planting after the nets have been installed can be done even during the rainy season. The cost of using coir-based products is lesser than concrete; while it immediately protects slopes against surface erosion, holding young immature plants in place at the same time.
Bioengineering is a method of construction using living plants or plants in combination with dead or organic materials. The practice brings together biological, ecological and engineering concepts to produce living, functioning systems to prevent erosion, to control sedimentation, or to provide habitat in difficult settings.
Bioengineering is a rapidly developing field. It is also a multidisciplinary field that encompasses biology, soil science and civil/ geotechnical engineering among others.