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Projects and pilots

In the Ems-Dollard 2050 programme, we combine projects for nature restoration with dyke reinforcement, capture of fine sediment and saline agriculture. Other projects focus on the beneficial use of fine sediment as a raw material for construction material and dike reinforcement. Most projects have now been completed. Knowledge gained about the nature and functioning of the estuary and the use of fine sediment will be of use in 2021-2026. In this period we will work on the upscaling of successful pilots, based on a sharpened ecological target and adjusted strategies. Our pilots and projects are:

Nesting island ‘Stern’

Since 2017, a nesting island of 2 hectares has been located off the coast of the Eemshaven. Here birds can breed, rest and flee at high tide. In five years the island developed into one of the best breeding areas in the Wadden Sea for migratory birds such as common tern and arctic tern. The largest colony of common terns in the Netherlands finds a safe breeding ground here. Before that time, the birds nested on industrial estates in the Eemshaven.

Luchtfoto vogelbroedeiland Stern in de Eems

Restoration of mussel beds pilot

From 2018 to 2020, tests were carried out to restore the almost disappeared mussel beds in the Ems-Dollard. Mussels, other shellfish and fish can find food and shelter here. The pilot provided new knowledge about the preconditions for the development and survival chances of mussel beds and mussels.

Aanleg mosselbank bij de Paap in de Waddenzee

Twin dike pilot

An innovative Twin Dike has been constructed at the Eemshaven-Delfzijl dike reinforcement. A lower dike has been constructed behind the sea dike. Both dikes and the area in between protect the land from flooding. The Twin Dike pilot will have an open connection with the sea. This is where fine sediment from the Ems-Dollard can settle and brackish nature can form. There is also room for the development of saline agriculture and aquaculture.

Rich Dike

Tidal pools and mollusc posts are located along the dike between Eemshaven and Delfzijl to make the area more attractive for nature. In the tidal pools, water remains at low tide, making it a habitat for crustaceans, shellfish and seaweed. Mussels can grow on ropes between the poles. Reef blocks made of fine sediment from the Ems-Dollard are located in the Ems, where mussels and oysters can build a new reef. Lobsters, molluscs and fish can grow up and find shelter here.

Palenbos in Eems-Dollard

Marconi project

The construction of a salt marsh and an attractive coastline gave the city of Delfzijl more opportunities for nature and recreation. On the newly created salt marshes animals and plants can thrive and fine sediment can deposit. A bird nesting island of 2 hectares has also been constructed. A new bridge connects the city centre with the new boulevard and the sandy beach. The Marconi project has reconnected the city centre with the Wadden Sea.

Pionierkwelder bij Delfzijl

Pressing building blocks pilot

With fine sediment from the Ems-Dollard building blocks were pressed and tests were carried out to make the material strong and durable. The building blocks have been brought in practice and can be used on a larger scale for (water) construction and infrastructural works.

Raising agricultural land pilot

As a pilot project, a low-lying field near Borgsweer was raised with fine sediment from the Ems-Dollard. The new layer can provide higher yields, reduce peat oxidation and improve water management. Whether large-scale application of fine sediment for raising low-lying agricultural land is technically, legally and financially feasible, is being examined.

Bij Borgsweer wordt het eerste perceel landbouwgrond opgehoogd met slib (foto waterschap Hunze en Aa's)

Coastal development Eemszijlen / Groote Polder

The aim of the Eemszijlen project is to prepare the coastal area of the Eems Delta municipality for the future. One of the components of Eemszijlen is the redevelopment of the Groote Polder near Borgsweer. To this end, the polder will be connected to the Ems via a culvert, allowing silt to naturally raise the coastal zone. The plans should prepare Groote Polder for climate change and contribute to strengthening Wadden nature, recreation and liveability.

Luchtfoto Groote Polder aan de Eems, met de camping van Termunterzijl en de pier van Oterdum

Kleine Polder

A smooth transition has been made between land and water and between freshwater and seawater. This makes the area more attractive for nature and establishes a better connection with the Wadden Sea. On the west side a fish-friendly culvert and bird islands is created. The east side is intended for recreation, with a playground, new walking paths, a beach, a swimming lake and a lookout point.

Luchtfoto van Kleine Polder bij Termunten (foto Eemsdeltadrones)

Breebaart Polder

This brackish nature reserve near Termunten has been redesigned to make it more attractive for nature and recreation. By dredging, birds can now breed more safely and fish can move around again. Fine sediment from the Ems-Dollard can also deposit. A new hiking trail and bird hide make the area more accessible.

Wandelaars lopen door het hek naar Polder Breebaart. Foto HGL / Geert Job Sevink

Sedimentation outside the dikes pilot

This pilot will investigate whether it is possible to capture fine sediment outside the dikes by creating sheltered zones in the Dollard. This makes the water less turbid and allows new habitats for plants and animals to develop. The coast may also be able to grow with the rise in sea level.

Illustratie Dollard voor de aanleg van de pilot buitendijkse slibsedimentatie

Clay ripening pilot

In clay ripening pilots, research is conducted into various ways of converting fine sediment into dike clay. Fine sediment from the harbour of Delfzijl and Breebaart Polder was brought into the clay depots at Delfzijl and on the Dollard salt marsh. The ‘matured’ clay is used to strengthen the dyke into a Broad Green Dike.

Broad Green Dike pilot

Part of the Dollard dike will be reinforced with clay, made from fine sediment from the Ems-Dollard. It will be a broad dike with a shallow slope, covered with a thick layer of clay, overgrown with grass. Through excavating the fine sediment from the salt marshes, a breeding island for avocets was constructed. If the test with salt dike clay is successful, the entire Dollard dike can be reinforced in this way.

Brede Groene Dijk met links de kleirijperij

Improvement sandy soils with fine sediment pilot

Fine sediment from the Ems-Dollard can be used as a kind of fertilizer to improve sandy soils. By annually applying a thin layer of fine sediment on agricultural land, moisture management improves and the yield of crops increases. After successful completion of the pilot, the possibilities for larger-scale application will be explored.