Nature & Water
The construction of the Afsluitdijk in 1932 was highly beneficial to safety and the development of the economy in the north of the Netherlands. But the construction also caused natural damage. Two major Dutch natural areas – the Wadden Sea and the Zuiderzee – suddenly became separated. The result was that fish stocks in the IJsselmeer dropped and routes for migratory fish to the European hinterland were blocked.
The Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat) and the partnerschip De Nieuwe Afsluitdijk aims to repair the ecological link between the Wadden Sea and the IJsselmeer. This will be beneficial to nature and specifically for the number of fish in both key natural areas. Until the 1970s we mainly viewed nature as an opponent in our battle against the water, which we had to keep out. This idea has gradually changed. Now we try to keep nature untouched in hydraulic-engineering projects. The challenge and the necessity is to shape the transition between land and water smoothly. In addition, we are also using nature as a solution (Building with Nature). In the Harlingen-Zurich coastal zone, for example, nature is used as an alternative method for coastal defenses.