Working with Nature in Wadden Sea Ports

M.J. Baptist, E. van Eekelen, P.J.T. Dankers, B. Grasmeijer, T. van Kessel, D.S. van Maren

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperProfessional

4 Citations (Scopus)


Wadden Sea ports are situated at the border of the UNESCO World Heritage site Wadden Sea. Because of the protected status of this area, developing new economic activities is not straightforward. However, maintaining and developing port activities is needed to safeguard the economic viability of the Wadden Sea
socio-economic region. In this paper we illustrate that sustainable port development is feasible when adopting a Working with Nature approach. This approach facilitates a design in which the proactive utilization and/or provision of ecosystem services serves as part of the engineering solution. We introduce four Working with Nature concepts that can be used in port designs, i.e. 1) optimising dredging strategies, 2) enhancing saltmarsh development, 3) creating estuarine gradients, and 4) optimising flow patterns. Based on these
concepts, three case studies have been identified and pilot projects initiated. In the Port of Harlingen a pilot project has started in which an optimized dredging strategy is combined with saltmarsh development. Around the Port of Delfzijl an estuarine gradient is combined with the construction of a salt marsh and dredged
sediment is used for dike strengthening. For the Port of Den Helder, a new design is proposed in which the concepts of enhancing salt marsh development, creating estuarine gradients and optimizing flow patterns are combined. Our conclusion is that even in a World Heritage site such as the Wadden Sea, port
development is possible when ecosystem services are used and provided for, and when a Working with Nature concept is put at the heart of the design.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventCoasts & Ports 2017 Conference - Cairns
Duration: 21 Jun 201723 Jun 2017


ConferenceCoasts & Ports 2017 Conference


  • Ecosystem services
  • working with Nature
  • cohesive sediment
  • harbour development
  • Wetland restoration


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