Marker Wadden

A unique new-build hydraulic engineering project is taking place in the Markermeer: Marker Wadden. A new group of islands has been created from sand, clay and sludge originated from the Markermeer lake.

The establishment of these islands improves the water quality as well as the habitat for birds, fish, plants and shellfish. People, too, will benefit from this nature reserve: the first and largest island is accessible to nature lovers and water sports enthusiasts.

Creating natural habitats

Afsluitdijk and Houtribdijk close off the lake from sea and rivers by. As a result, the ecosystem was disrupted and a blanket of sludge is smothering the bed of the lake. This resulted in a lack of natural habitats for plants and animals, such as banks, tidal mudflats and marshes, and shallow zones. Both in the Netherlands and the rest of the world, this reduction in natural habitats is an issue. Removal of the sludge (and putting it to good use) is of benefit to people, nature and the economy.

A lot of knowledge is gathered about building with sand, clay and sludge during the creation of the Marker Wadden. This knowledge could be deployed for other objectives, such as dyke reinforcement, erosion control or the creation of islands for residential use. The research performed around the Marker Wadden project focussed on 3 main areas:

  • Building with sediment: how do you use watery sludge or clay to make a solid substrate for an island?
  • Development of ecosystems: how can the Marker Wadden contribute to the expansion of the natural diversity and increasing the supply and quality of food for birds and fish?
  • From idea to creation and management: which steps are required, how do you control the decision-making process?

Marker Wadden knowledge and innovation program

In the Marker Wadden knowledge and innovation program (KIMA) Rijkswaterstaat, Deltares, EcoShape and Natuurmomumenten investigated how the ecosystem of the Marker Wadden is developing. The objective of KIMA is to generate and present knowledge about building with sludge, sandy barriers, ecology and governance. Why a knowledge and innovation programme?

  • The ecology of the Markermeer is unable to realize its potential due to the 'blanket of sludge’ that is smothering organisms living on the bed of the lake.
  • There are no natural habitats for plants and animals, such as banks, tidal mudflats and marshes, and shallow zones.
  • The knowledge that the project delivers will work as an incentive for more innovation within the knowledge and innovation program.
  • With the knowledge and experience that we acquire, we will strengthen the position of the Netherlands as an ‘exporter of knowledge’ in the field of ecology, hydraulic engineering and water governance.

The final results of the programme were published in 2022.

For more information see Knowledge and Innovation Program Marker Wadden.