Netherlands: five new islands created to preserve biodiversity

The Netherlands have found a solution to boost the ecosystem of the Markermeer by building new islands for biodiversity. The experts evoke one of the largest nature restoration operations ever carried out in Europe.

The Markermeer (or Lake Marken) is a 700 km2 stretch of water in the center of the Netherlands, a country largely below sea level and particularly vulnerable to rising water levels. Lake Marken contains fresh water to regulate the level of water in the rest of the country. But until recently, the latter was no more than a cloudy mass where aquatic life was scarce.

Indeed, the biodiversity of the lake has been undermined in recent decades because of the construction of a dike separating the Markermeer from another nearby lake, the Ijsselmeer. The sediments that were previously washed away fell to the bottom of the lake, which greatly impacted the wildlife and made the water cloudy.

Built in two and a half years, five new islands – all of which have been dubbed Marker Wadden – have restored biodiversity. The 700 hectares of surface are gradually being covered with vegetation, and no less than 127 kinds of plants have already been recorded, most of which seem to have been brought by the wind.

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In 2018, no less than 30,000 swallows used this place as a resting place, just like some other bird species (greylag goose, night heron, common tern). They can fish because the fish has come back too. Indeed, the islets have allowed plankton multiplication in the water, guaranteeing a food source for fish.

The project was launched by the local NGO Natuurmonumenten, with a budget of 60 million euros partly financed by individuals. There was also talk of a partnership with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Flevoland and North Holland regions as well as other associations of fishermen and conservationists.

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Shakes Gilles

Editor of The Talking Democrat. He enjoys bike riding, kayaking and playing soccer. On a slow weekend, you'll find him with a book by the lake.