Saltmarsh Sanctuary

︎ Salt Marsh Sanctuary is an interactive and educational (hand-coded) website that allows people to digitally grow their own salt marshes, while also encouraging them to donate to save real-life salt marshes in Rhode Island.

︎ Salt marshes are an important habitat for at-risk species and provide natural filtration and greenhouse gas reduction. However, they are being destroyed by land development and sea level rise, which causes marshes to decompose and leads to their eventual death.

︎ Users enter a map of salt marsh locations. Various digital plants can then be planted on top of real world salt marsh photos.
︎ With every plant planted, $1 is counted to save 1 sqft of salt marsh in RI. Users see that most of the salt marsh location photos lack the important vegetation a salt marsh needs, but through planting and donating they are able to help.

︎ The code for generating the plants is created with L-systems. They are a series of formulas used to model the growth of complex structures like plants.

︎ L-system plants are created by a set of rules that dictate how the plant should grow while also incorporating randomness and lack of control, mirroring the processes of nature.

︎ This form of symbology allows for a more accurate and realistic representation of how salt marsh plants grow and interact with their environment. Rather than simplifying or abstracting, which is what symbols usually do, this approach creates a more poetic, immersive and educational experience for users, deepening their appreciation for these plants and their investment in the cause.

︎ Users share their salt marsh creations in a community archive

︎ Users are informed about the importance of saving salt marshes


Exploring Rhode Island salt marshes and documenting their vegetation

Experimenting with bio-computation and L-system growth

©2023 Alina Spatz