BIOMIMICRY: Creating Land from Air

This innovative coastal restoration system was developed on the winter beaches of Cape Cod. This simple system mimics the matrix profile of native vegetation to collect and stabilize sand. Like native vegetation, this system demonstrates performance inversely proportional to it’s profile.  This system is still in development. Safe Harbor has made our biomimicry strategy and techniques Public Domain. Further development details are described on our “Barrier Dune Restoration” Page.

1. Download our  new 16 page Biomimicry publication below. This illustrated booklet describes the development, strategy and techniques for using Biomimicry Sand Collection Systems



 2. Boston TV CH 5.  CHRONICLE PROGRAM came down to the Cape to investigate how biomimicry could work so well! We have posted their segment on our work as a YOUTUBE video  and here is the easy link. (about 4-5 minutes)


3. WBZ TV CH 4 Boston (CBS) Weather Team did a special segment on our Biomimicry work. Here is that link:


4. We have also posted  our own 3 minute, Biomimicry info video, describing Biomimicry sand collection systems and here is that easy link:



5. Another version of the same Biomimicry video:

Making Land From Air: Bio-Mimicry Sand Collection System 


6. A recent article in our local newspaper updating the spread of Biomimicry:


7. This article about our work is from an Australian magazine: 

8. Listen in on a local radio interview explaining  Biomimicry by clicking on the link below



Making Land From Air: Biomimicry Development, Strategy and Techniques

By Gordon Peabody, Edited by Nadia Bricault, Safe Harbor, Revised September 1, 2013 508 237-3724


Biomimicry is an innovative, random matrix, coastal restoration system that harvests sand from storm winds. Safe Harbor Environmental developed this minimal profile system during a Barrier Dune restoration in Truro, Cape Cod, following 5 failures at the toe of the dune. The broken Dune had over washed into a fresh water marsh for 19 yrs. Safe Harbor’s restoration systems collected 22-24 vertical feet of new sand In 26 months. The cross section profile of the restored Barrier Dune was 600 square feet.


Biomimicry” refers to our minimal profile, random matrix, coastal restoration system.  Biomimicry mimics the ‘performance” of native coastal vegetation to stabilize and collect wind blown sand. Biomimicry uses 14 inch long, narrow Cedar shims which are randomly, inserted several inches into the sand, spaced from 10-14 inches apart, in a 4-6 foot wide random matrix along the upper beach. This matrix stabilizes existing sand while collecting new sand from ocean storms. As sand levels rise, the shims are pulled up higher, to continue collecting. Additional shims can be added to widen the profile. How the shims are adjusted controls the profile of the sand collection platform. As elevations increase, Beach grass can be planted side by side with Biomimicry.  This is a “counterintuitive system”, that performs   inversely proportional to it’s minimal profile, see pgs 9-14. We recommend seeking minimal (AR or RDA) permitting. Biomimicry is not considered a fence and is not a structure.


Barrier Dunes over wash as part of the coastal process. Biomimicry was developed in an anthropogenically impacted, high frequency over wash area. Biomimicry may improve closure timelines for other Dune breaches.


Dunes: One pack of Cedar shims covers approximately 10’x10’. Five packages of shims and one hour of time will create a 100’ X 5’ matrix to begin dune creation. On ocean beaches with good sand supply, dunes are created when the matrix (or grass) minimally interacts with storm energy in the coastal resource system. The shims require adjustment after storms.





Native vegetation collects and stabilizes windblown sand.