Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gabions for Creek Restoration

Gabions acting as a retaining wall.

Gabion is a word that comes from Italian meaning big cage.  In typical civil engineering use, a gabion is a cage or box filled with sand, soil, or rubble used to stabilize a slope, build a retaining wall, build a foundation, or direct flow of water especially to prevent erosion.  The military will uses gabions to protect artillery crews from enemy fire.

Gabions used to prevent water erosion.

I recently came across the following video showing how gabions are being used to restore a creek and surrounding riparian zone and vegetation.  (Riparian = the interface between land and river or stream)  In this case, the term gabion is loosely applied to piles of rocks and trees.  These piles form a leaky dam.  The water upstream builds up, the water level rises, and the water irrigates the surrounding land.  The water downstream initially slows down, but soon after construction the water leaks through the gabions and flow returns to previous levels.  This allows a landowner to utilize water more efficiently.  Also, by keeping the downstream flow unchanged, no downstream neighbors can complain.  

This is a beautiful system that builds ecosystems.  It is a great example of Permaculture in action.  Here is the video from the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia:

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