Recovery and Conservation of the Scheldt Estuary

Geographical location:

Europe/Middle-East > West Central Europe > Belgium > Flemish Region

Europe/Middle-East > West Central Europe > Netherlands

Scheldt campaign bus
© (c) WWF Belgium/Philip Weiler

Summary

This project aims to emphasize the natural beauty of the Scheldt. WWF Belgium sets up an active and dynamic awareness campaign together with various Dutch and Belgian organizations. Therefore a campaign Scheldt-bus travels from town to town. In addition the project developed a television-documentary on the Scheldt estuary, TV and radio commercials, publication and flyers and a moveable exposition. In June 2005 a big international Scheldt event will take place along the river.

Three pilot nature sites (Noordelijk eiland, Ketenisseschoor and Ellewoutswijk) play a strategic role during this project. These sites are not only the window for the campaign, but also the prove that nature can - if well managed - live in harmony with people and industry.

Background

The Netherlands and Flanders share a unique area of natural beauty. An area with meadowland and tidal woods, salt marshes and mud flats, flood channels and tidal creeks. An area where river and sea merge. Where yearly hundreds of thousands of birds break their journey, seals and porpoises live and sometimes even a dolphin can be seen. The Scheldt estuary is situated in the northwest of Flanders in Belgium and the southwest of The Netherlands and covers approximately half of the whole Scheldt River Basin. It is one of the few remaining European estuaries that include the entire gradient from fresh to salt water tidal areas. The Western Scheldt and large parts of the Flemish Sea Scheldt are so unique that they have been given international protection (Ramsar, Habitat and Bird Directive).

Although the Scheldt river has a rich nature to offer, it is particularly known for its busy shipping lane to Antwerp with industrial areas along its banks. This unfamiliarity with and mediocre appreciation of the natural biodiversity is a missing link for a broad and firm public support of the Scheldt nature. For this reason an awareness campaign is set up to point out the beauty, contrasts and difficulties of this area.

Objectives

The main goal is the recovery and sustainable development of a natural and optimally functioning Scheldt-estuary with its characteristic processes, ecotopes and habitats in a safe and endurable environment.

Solution

1. Increase familiarity of nature in the Scheldt estuary with the local public, the business community and the fishery, recreational and agricultural sector. Transform this awareness into social support for conservation and recovery of the qualities of the Scheldt estuary as a water- and ecosystem.

2. Stimulate and support political and administrative decision-making concerning development and management emphasizing recovery and sustainable conservation of the qualities of the estuary.

Achievement

- Development of a vision for the Scheldt estuary, as basis for political support.
- Development of communication instrument as part of the awareness campaign (18 m long Scheldt-bus, expositions, documentary, TV and radio commercials, Scheldt Weekend Event, flyers, … ).
- Design of infrastuctural measures improving the accessibility and attractiveness of the 3 sites.

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