How can dike reinforcements, water safety and nature conservation go hand in hand and benefit from one another? To find out, regional water authority Drents Overijsselse Delta (WDODelta) recently launched two projects: the innovation project Dikes and Nature (Dijken en Natuur) and a research project with the University of Twente (UT). Their objective is to identify natural solutions in which nature conservation and natural development are part and parcel of dike reinforcement. This will require close cooperation between water authorities, knowledge institutes and nature conservation organisations.
“Reinforcing dikes close to protected nature areas always presents major challenges,” says Breun Breunissen, daily board member of WDODelta whose portfolio includes water safety. “Lots of different organisations are involved, each with their own interests. But rather than trying to balance the various pros and cons, win-win solutions can also be found, such as having more vegetation on the dikes, or planting riparian forest or reed in floodplains. And using natural solutions for dike reinforcement also reduces project costs.”
Dikes and Nature
The Dijken en Natuur project is an innovation project within the national High Water Protection Programme (Hoogwaterbeschermingsprogramma). The project focuses on a variety of dike reinforcements throughout the Netherlands. This week sees the start of a Community of Practice in which individual dike reinforcement projects, nature organizations, governmental authorities, ecologists, engineers, and others exchange knowledge and experiences in order to explore new ideas and wishes in nature development and identify climate-proof solutions for water safety.
Integrating knowledge and practice
“The introduction of natural solutions is a complex issue that demands an integrated approach,” says Professor Leentje Volker. As professor of Integrated Project Delivery in the Civil Engineering and Management department at the University of Twente, Volker is constantly seeking to develop and transfer new knowledge on the subject. “While my own group is doing design-oriented research into collaboration processes, another group in the department is specialised in the design of nature-based solutions. In this collaborative project we pool our expertise and knowledge and, and validate it in practice.”
For more information, please contact:
Herald van Gerner, press officer Waterschap Drents Overijsselse Delta, +31 6 55 34 80 43, firstname.lastname@example.org.