Publication "Back to basics. Natural dynamics and resilience on the Dutch Wadden Sea Barrier Islands"

The Dutch Wadden Sea Islands originated some six thousand years ago. Since then they have changed continuously.

[Translate to english:] Cover

 Sandy islands in the Wadden Sea area tend to be very dynamic. Since the Middle Ages dynamic processes periodically dominated the islands morphology, probably linked to the gradual rise and incidental fall of human populations on the islands. Intense sand drifting caused by overgrazing, for instance, occurred sometimes on a very large scale. At the end of the 19th century, governmental agencies started to plant pine forests and Marram grass in order to stop the intensive sand drifting. Artificial sand-drift dikes were constructed to reduce flooding by North Sea water during high tides. Such activities greatly reduced the resilience of an island to cope with future sea level rise. Lack of natural dune forming processes, such as sand blowing and regular flooding by the sea, is also responsible for a continuous decline of flora and fauna. In particular those species associated with pioneer stages are threatened with extinction. This situation calls for reconsideration of the way in which we manage and protect our coast. The coast and its ecosystems have to adapt to changing patterns of wind and rainfall, and in the long run to an accelerating sea level rise. At the same time we have to find ways to compensate the on-going loss of biodiversity. What will happen if we give way to more natural processes? Can we guarantee long term safety for island residents? What will be the consequences for biodiversity? To answer these questions knowledge is needed of geomorphological
and ecological processes under natural conditions. 

This book presents a short overview of such knowledge.

Copies can be ordered from:

University of Groningen
Center for Energy and Environmental Studies (IVEM)
Nijenborgh 4
9747 AP Groningen
The Netherlands