Jan 2, 2020

Eco-friendly ways to protect the Dutch coast: Building with Nature around the Eastern Scheldt

Originally posted on October 22nd, 2016

As second year Aquatic Eco Technologists, one of our major assignments is to learn how to carry out proper research and set up a research report. We chose, out of four research topics, a  project for Building with Nature.  So when the HZ Building with Nature research group organized their annual excursion for minor students from universities in  the Netherlands, we had the privilege to join them! The purpose of the day is to show the Building with Nature research locations around the Eastern Scheldt. Read on to learn how eco-friendly ways are used in Zeeland to protect us from future floods.

29888728312_5b58e6db76_o.pngOur tight scedule with many interesting stops

At 8.15 we were all ready to go. Our backpacks filled with lunch, rubber boots and dry socks. We took off from Vlissingen to our first stop: the Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier. This barrier was designed after the flood in 1953 to protect the Eastern Scheldt from flooding again. The most interesting thing we learned is that a major dam like this is not always the best solution, because it can lead to changes in the surrounding environment.

29373192254_e6ab716835_o.jpgThe group at the mussel beds in Viane. © Edwin Paree 

We made a minor stop at the ‘Plompe Toren’. In the tower we learned about the history of flooding on the island Schouwen – Duiveland. After a short coffee break with a delicious piece of apple pie we travelled further to Viane where we first needed our rubber boots! They definitely came in handy while walking over oysters and walking through the water to the mussel banks. The research carried out here focuses on the growth of mussels.  As a bonus we got the chance to taste oysters and seaweed, all fresh from the sea!

29706973140_87d8d4b88f_o.jpgTasting seaweed. © Edwin Paree 

Our next stop was in Sint- Annaland, where we looked at the reinforcement of the dike. Different types of blocks were used that are more eco-friendly. Because of the nice, sunny weather some of us decided to take a quick swim before moving on.

29373213824_1e81eef42d_o.jpg© Edwin Paree 

On the Oysterdam our rubber boots got covered in a new layer of mud while walking through the water to the oyster beds. The oyster beds protect the dikes against wave action, but also stabilizes sand in sand banks. As a positive side effect it increases biodiversity by attracting species.

29374220953_5590ccee39_o.jpgLearning about the Oysterdam. © Edwin Paree 

One of the companies also involved in this project is NIOZ. NIOZ is an institute that is doing applied scientific research on important processes in delta areas, coastal seas and open oceans. We visited NIOZ in Yerseke where we attended a presentation about their research, which was interesting and also very helpful for our research assignment. Last but not least we went for some fresh kibbeling to fill our stomach after a long but fun day in the field.

29374226633_72c8888297_o.jpg© Edwin Paree 

Thanks to the research group Building with Nature for letting us join this fun and interesting day. We have seen a lot of different projects and received useful information for our research assignment.

Are you interested in other examples of Building with Nature? Check out this blog post about the Sand Motor – one of the largest Building with Nature projects in the world.  


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