My name is Celine van Bijsterveldt and I am the ecologist in the BioManCo project.

I have been fascinated by marine biology since I was eight years old and first put on some goggles and a snorkel. I grew up in Wageningen, a little town in the Netherlands with an internationally famous university for life science studies. My enthusiasm for marine biology only grew when I joined the local scuba association, where biologists passionately talked about the functioning of all that we encountered. I learned that coastal ecosystems provide more services than people realize. People often think of coastal ecosystems as  “a nice place to go”, or “important for aquaculture and fisheries”, but many coastal ecosystems also provide services that are much less visible: for instance as a carbon storage or natural protection against waves. I think it is important that we will be able to keep enjoying marine ecosystems and their benefits in the future, but many coastal ecosystems are currently under threat, due to all kinds of anthropogenic development.

I believe that it is not feasible to neglect the need for such development, but instead we should look into ways to integrate necessary coastal development with coastal ecosystems to promote a mutualistic interaction: “Building with Nature”. This is why I wanted to be a part of the BioManCo project. In BioManCo we try to understand how best to aid the expansion of existing mangroves into a green-belt that can function as a buffer between the sea and the coastal settlements. I, as a marine biologist, try to understand what factors (both natural, and human induced) promote and hamper mangrove growth. Whereas Silke and Alejandra, with their background in engineering, focus on how those factors change naturally, or how we can make them change to the mangroves’ advantage. Together we form an enthusiastic interdisciplinary team trying to fit the building with nature puzzle together!