Te buibui

Source: United Nations Development Programme. (2022). On Nonouti, LDCF continues to support environmental sustainability and food security. https://www.adaptation-undp.org/resources/news-article/nonouti-ldcf-continues-support-environmental-sustainability-and-food-security

Te buibui are a natural alternative to a hard seawall. The method uses natural materials like branches, palm fronds, coconut fibre and string to create a ‘brush structure’. Te buibui capture sediment and act as a protective barrier against wind and seawater. 

The method has been encouraged by the Kiribati government as an ecosystem-based adaptation method to combat sea level rise and land erosion. Te buibui empowers communities to contribute to solutions to climate change – they can be built with a village’s available materials, by the members of the village. 

Used in collaboration with strategies like mangrove planting and wetlands, te buibui can be an effective method of improving coastal resilience. 

Name of NbS

Brush structures (Te Buibui)

Type of NbS

Hybrid interventions

Location

Shorelines

Case study:

Brush structures (Te Buibui): Case Study

Source: United Nations Development Programme. (2022). On Nonouti, LDCF continues to support environmental sustainability and food security. https://www.adaptation-undp.org/resources/news-article/nonouti-ldcf-continues-support-environmental-sustainability-and-food-security

Relationship to indigenous knowledge

Te buibui use natural, local materials and are built by communities, for communities. As the effects of climate change on Oceanic nations becomes increasingly dire, modern technological solutions such as sea walls are being implemented. Because of the increasing commonality of external aid and funding for climate adaptation in Oceania, projects are being planned and determined by foreign countries, rather than local communities (Piggott-McKellar et al, 2020). 
Sea walls have been built in places like Kiribati to combat sea level rise. Te buibui are an alternative to sea walls that allows local people to work with traditional, natural methods instead – which align more with the indigenous world views and what the local people intrinsically understand.

Climate change benefits
  • coastal erosion
  • coastal inundation and storm surge
  • Desertification
  • sea level rise
  • soil erosion and landslides
  • Wind / storm damage

Te buibui aim to combat sea level rise and to protect the shoreline. Oceanic island nations are among the most affected by sea level rise, so methods like te buibui, that use local knowledge and materials, allow communities to participate in solutions.
The use of local materials does not damage local ecosystems and species, who are already at risk from changing climates and environments. Te buibui do not alter the shape and natural movement of the shoreline like a hard seawall does.

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Societal/socio-cultural benefit
  • Disaster risk reduction and resilience

Finding solutions to climate change that local communities can actively engage with, understand and participate in, is key to climate change adaptation. There are increasing arguments for community-based adaptation methods – bottom up, rather than top down methods. If a community understands the method and has actively participated in its creation, they are more likely and able to maintain it. (Donner, S. D., & Webber, S. (2014)

Climate change adaptation has to consider wellbeing models of the specific community it is dealing with. In many Oceanic nations wellbeing of people and nature is intrinsically linked and the shoreline is sacred. It should be noted that all communities, cultures and countries are different, but in general, nature based solutions are more likely to be accepted than modern, built solutions. 

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Ecological and biodiversity benefits
  • Mana (pride), whakamana (empowerment), tino rangatiratanga (sovereignty)
  • Disturbance prevention

Te buibui are a natural alternative to a sea wall. Using natural materials is better for the ocean and the shoreline. Sea walls can increase the rate of erosion in front of the sea wall, and “when all sediment has been removed from the front of the wall, down drift areas will no longer receive sediment and erosion may be accelerated” (C-CAP, 2015). 
Seawalls can interfere with natural processes like habitat migration, and can weaken soil or sand around them. Alternatively, te buibui can be constantly maintained, altered and adjusted as needed.

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Technical requirements

There are limited technical requirements of te buibui, and almost anyone can learn how to make them.

Structural integrity

Te buibui are potentially less structurally resilient than traditional sea walls, and are likely more viable on smaller scales.

Opportunities

There are opportunities to develop te buibui to other Oceanic islands, adapting the method to other vulnerable communities and shorelines. The inclusion of local communities, making them active stakeholders and constant maintenance providers is key in the search for sustainable, long-term climate change mitigation strategies.

Financial case

In using natural, local materials, te buibui have no financial strain on a community. In fact, it is likely to be free of charge.

References