European Rewilding Network
052

Marker Wadden

Restoring Lake Marken in the Netherlands

The recently opened island is one of five created with sediment from the Markermeer. The other four, which are now undergoing a process of vegetation, are inacessible and solely for the benefit of wildlife.
John Gundlach - Flying Holland / Natuurmonumenten
As one of Europe’s largest, most ambitious and most innovative nature restoration initiatives, Marker Wadden is working to boost biodiversity and reconnect people with wild nature.
Natuurmonumenten
Crowds of people gather at the opening of an island created in the centre of the Markermeer as part of the Marker Wadden rewilding project.
Natuurmonumenten
A digital illustration of the first phase of the Marker Wadden restoration project in the central Netherlands.
Natuurmonumenten
The Marker Wadden is an artificial archipelago in development in the Markermeer, a lake in the Netherlands.
Vereniging Natuurmonumenten

Marker Wadden restoration project, run by  Natuurmonumenten will restore Lake Marken (Markermeer), one of the largest freshwater lakes in Europe, by constructing islands, marshes and mud flats from the sediments that have accumulated in the lake in recent decades. Marker Wadden will boost biodiversity in the Netherlands. The project is aiming to restore an area of up to 100 square kilometres.

One of the largest freshwater lakes in western Europe, the Markermeer is a shallow lake with a depth of between 3 and 5 metres. It used to be part of the Zuiderzee, a saltwater inlet of the North Sea, which was dammed off in 1932.

Following the abandonment of a land reclamation project in the 1980s, the Markermeer became a valuable ecological and recreational asset. The lake is a Natura 2000 site, and an important breeding, resting and wintering habitat for numerous bird species. It is also home to wide range of fish species, on which many bird species depend.

Unfortunately the biodiversity of Markermeer has declined drastically over the last few decades. Due to the separation of the lake by dykes, sediment which was once carried away on currents now falls to the bottom of the lake, making the water turbid and negatively impacting fish and bird populations, as well as plants and molluscs.

The eventual aim of the Marker Wadden project, which began in 2014, is to create a 10,000-hectare archipelago of islands in the lake, using the fine sediment from the lake bottom. In a groundbreaking approach, a consortium of Dutch companies, including hydraulic engineering company Boskalis and the Department of Public Works of Rijkswaterstaat, are using ring dykes of sand to contain the sediment.

Facilitating the restoration of up to 100 square kilometres of lake, Marker Wadden’s archipelago of islands will provide a wide range of valuable habitats and solve the problem of siltation by changing water dynamics and creating deeper gullies where suspended silt can settle out. By improving water quality, this will also help to regenerate ecological productivity, boosting ecosystem functioning and benefiting many species of birds, fish and macrofauna. It will also benefit recreational activities on the lake.

Government funding is vital to the success of Marker Wadden, with the overall cost of the project estimated to be around €300 million. Construction of one island of 250 hectares has already been completed, while financing for the next four islands (representing the first project phase of 1000 hectares) has already been secured.

The Marker Wadden project, which will transform a large inland water body with poor ecological functioning into a lake teeming with life above and below the water, is a great example of a nature-based solution using rewilding principles. It’s a win-win for wild nature and man!

Project: Marker Wadden
Region: Lake Marker (Markermeer), province of Flevoland, The Netherlands
Type of protection: N2000, Ramsar
Habitat types: Islands and natural shores such as wetlands and beaches.
Keystone species: the Markermeer serves as breeding grounds for common tern and cormorant, and as feeding and resting area for the barnacle goose, common goldeneye, little gull, great crested grebe, greylag goose, goosander, gadwall, red-crested pochard, tufted duck, common spoonbill, coot, smew, northern shoveller, widgeon, common pochard, scaup (bluebill) and black tern. Birds such as tundra swan, black-headed gull, Mediterranean gull, little grebe and common shelduck come to the Markermeer to moult, rest, and or overwinter. The Marker Wadden project will greatly increase food and habitat availability for these birds. Although fish mass and diversity in the Markermeer have decreased strongly since the 1980s, the lake still harbours a broad range of fish species. Common fish species in the Markermeer include smelt, roach, rudd, perch, bream, carp, tench, pike, ruffe, three-spined stickleback and zander.
Fauna (mega) species present: The biggest species which are expected in the Marker Wadden are: osprey, white-tailed eagle, European beaver, European otter
Aim and vision: To restore Lake Marken’s ecosystem and biodiversity by constructing an archipelago of 10.000 hectares and involving the Dutch community: finance, recreation and education.
The Netherlands originally consisted of marshlands and lakes. Much have been reclaimed. We want to initiate the restoration of the Markermeer by means of the Marker Wadden concept: an archipelago of islands, with marshlands, shallow waters and land/water transitions which will regenerate ecological productivity and biodiversity.
Uniqueness of the project: The Marker Wadden initiative is an innovative project to build a natural archipelago using fine sediments that have accumulated in the lake. This will provide a wide range of valuable habitats, contribute to solving the silt problem in the Markermeer and increase nature’s abundance and diversity. Marker Wadden will improve water recreation.
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, Recreational activities, Research
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: We hope to create the archipelago covering an area of 10.000 hectares. Monitoring and research will provide knowledge on large scale restoration and development of wetlands and freshwater ecosystems, helping us to stimulate building with nature in other areas of the Dutch delta and other places abroad.
Results so far: Construction of the first island (250 hectares), financing the next 4 islands and thereby the rest of the first phase (1.000 hectares) has been accomplished.
Inspirational value: How to in the best way enhance biodiversity by large scaled restoration of abiotic conditions of an ecosystem while at the same time creating new habitat for submarine and terrestrial species.
Experience you would like to share: The Marker Wadden project team would like to magnify the potential impact of Marker Wadden by exchanging expertise and knowledge with other managers and stakeholders of European water bodies. Marker Wadden will ignite a series of scientifically interesting discoveries, that can be used in other river delta’s and (former) estuarine areas for the better of nature and the people that inhabit these wetlands.
Experience you would like to gain: How to end a governmental status quo by using a master plan to open minds of all relevant stakeholders, governments foremost. Experience in financing nature development/restoration projects.
Map
Country
Netherlands
Start year
2014
Size (ha)
1st phase 1000
Area type
Freshwater lakes, Natural islands
Natural process
Other
Flagship species
Other
Marker Wadden
The recently opened island is one of five created with sediment from the Markermeer. The other four, which are now undergoing a process of vegetation, are inacessible and solely for the benefit of wildlife.
John Gundlach - Flying Holland / Natuurmonumenten
As one of Europe’s largest, most ambitious and most innovative nature restoration initiatives, Marker Wadden is working to boost biodiversity and reconnect people with wild nature.
Natuurmonumenten
Crowds of people gather at the opening of an island created in the centre of the Markermeer as part of the Marker Wadden rewilding project.
Natuurmonumenten
A digital illustration of the first phase of the Marker Wadden restoration project in the central Netherlands.
Natuurmonumenten
The Marker Wadden is an artificial archipelago in development in the Markermeer, a lake in the Netherlands.
Vereniging Natuurmonumenten

Marker Wadden restoration project, run by  Natuurmonumenten will restore Lake Marken (Markermeer), one of the largest freshwater lakes in Europe, by constructing islands, marshes and mud flats from the sediments that have accumulated in the lake in recent decades. Marker Wadden will boost biodiversity in the Netherlands. The project is aiming to restore an area of up to 100 square kilometres.

One of the largest freshwater lakes in western Europe, the Markermeer is a shallow lake with a depth of between 3 and 5 metres. It used to be part of the Zuiderzee, a saltwater inlet of the North Sea, which was dammed off in 1932.

Following the abandonment of a land reclamation project in the 1980s, the Markermeer became a valuable ecological and recreational asset. The lake is a Natura 2000 site, and an important breeding, resting and wintering habitat for numerous bird species. It is also home to wide range of fish species, on which many bird species depend.

Unfortunately the biodiversity of Markermeer has declined drastically over the last few decades. Due to the separation of the lake by dykes, sediment which was once carried away on currents now falls to the bottom of the lake, making the water turbid and negatively impacting fish and bird populations, as well as plants and molluscs.

The eventual aim of the Marker Wadden project, which began in 2014, is to create a 10,000-hectare archipelago of islands in the lake, using the fine sediment from the lake bottom. In a groundbreaking approach, a consortium of Dutch companies, including hydraulic engineering company Boskalis and the Department of Public Works of Rijkswaterstaat, are using ring dykes of sand to contain the sediment.

Facilitating the restoration of up to 100 square kilometres of lake, Marker Wadden’s archipelago of islands will provide a wide range of valuable habitats and solve the problem of siltation by changing water dynamics and creating deeper gullies where suspended silt can settle out. By improving water quality, this will also help to regenerate ecological productivity, boosting ecosystem functioning and benefiting many species of birds, fish and macrofauna. It will also benefit recreational activities on the lake.

Government funding is vital to the success of Marker Wadden, with the overall cost of the project estimated to be around €300 million. Construction of one island of 250 hectares has already been completed, while financing for the next four islands (representing the first project phase of 1000 hectares) has already been secured.

The Marker Wadden project, which will transform a large inland water body with poor ecological functioning into a lake teeming with life above and below the water, is a great example of a nature-based solution using rewilding principles. It’s a win-win for wild nature and man!

Map
Country
Netherlands
Start year
2014
Size (ha)
1st phase 1000
Area type
Freshwater lakes, Natural islands
Natural process
Other
Flagship species
Other
Specification
Project: Marker Wadden
Region: Lake Marker (Markermeer), province of Flevoland, The Netherlands
Type of protection: N2000, Ramsar
Habitat types: Islands and natural shores such as wetlands and beaches.
Keystone species: the Markermeer serves as breeding grounds for common tern and cormorant, and as feeding and resting area for the barnacle goose, common goldeneye, little gull, great crested grebe, greylag goose, goosander, gadwall, red-crested pochard, tufted duck, common spoonbill, coot, smew, northern shoveller, widgeon, common pochard, scaup (bluebill) and black tern. Birds such as tundra swan, black-headed gull, Mediterranean gull, little grebe and common shelduck come to the Markermeer to moult, rest, and or overwinter. The Marker Wadden project will greatly increase food and habitat availability for these birds. Although fish mass and diversity in the Markermeer have decreased strongly since the 1980s, the lake still harbours a broad range of fish species. Common fish species in the Markermeer include smelt, roach, rudd, perch, bream, carp, tench, pike, ruffe, three-spined stickleback and zander.
Fauna (mega) species present: The biggest species which are expected in the Marker Wadden are: osprey, white-tailed eagle, European beaver, European otter
Description
Aim and vision: To restore Lake Marken’s ecosystem and biodiversity by constructing an archipelago of 10.000 hectares and involving the Dutch community: finance, recreation and education.
The Netherlands originally consisted of marshlands and lakes. Much have been reclaimed. We want to initiate the restoration of the Markermeer by means of the Marker Wadden concept: an archipelago of islands, with marshlands, shallow waters and land/water transitions which will regenerate ecological productivity and biodiversity.
Uniqueness of the project: The Marker Wadden initiative is an innovative project to build a natural archipelago using fine sediments that have accumulated in the lake. This will provide a wide range of valuable habitats, contribute to solving the silt problem in the Markermeer and increase nature’s abundance and diversity. Marker Wadden will improve water recreation.
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, Recreational activities, Research
Achievements
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: We hope to create the archipelago covering an area of 10.000 hectares. Monitoring and research will provide knowledge on large scale restoration and development of wetlands and freshwater ecosystems, helping us to stimulate building with nature in other areas of the Dutch delta and other places abroad.
Results so far: Construction of the first island (250 hectares), financing the next 4 islands and thereby the rest of the first phase (1.000 hectares) has been accomplished.
Exchange
Inspirational value: How to in the best way enhance biodiversity by large scaled restoration of abiotic conditions of an ecosystem while at the same time creating new habitat for submarine and terrestrial species.
Experience you would like to share: The Marker Wadden project team would like to magnify the potential impact of Marker Wadden by exchanging expertise and knowledge with other managers and stakeholders of European water bodies. Marker Wadden will ignite a series of scientifically interesting discoveries, that can be used in other river delta’s and (former) estuarine areas for the better of nature and the people that inhabit these wetlands.
Experience you would like to gain: How to end a governmental status quo by using a master plan to open minds of all relevant stakeholders, governments foremost. Experience in financing nature development/restoration projects.
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