Marker Wadden Restoration Project

  • Country:
  • Start year:
  • Location:
    Lake Marker (Markermeer), province of Flevoland, The Netherlands
  • Size (ha):
    1st phase 1000
  • Area Type:
  • Type of protection:
    N2000, Ramsar

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.

First phase of the Marker Wadden restoration project in the Netherlands.


  • Habitat types: Islands and natural shores such as wetlands and beaches.
  • Keystone species present: 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
  • Vegetation types present: The following habitats are expected: water vegetation of turbid to clear shallow waters with Charas and Potamogetons – pioneer vegetation on the sand dunes – various reed vegetations dominated by Phragmites Australis, Magno cariceae and several herbs like Eupatorium cannabinum, Sonchus palustris – marshland with helophyte vegetation – pioneer vegetation of muddy banks with Tephroseris palustris and Scirpus maritimus.


  • Description: The Markermeer ecosystem (in the vicinity of Amsterdam) has deteriorated dramatically. There is significant siltation and barely any natural shores or shallow littoral zones. As a result, many water plants, fish and molluscs are struggling to survive. The decrease in primary production and reduced invertebrate and fish populations have led to a food shortage for many water birds. We will use these sediments to construct spawning areas, islands and natural shores. Bringing back these habitats will greatly benefit endangered plants and animals. <br /> Natural processes include consolidation, formation of land out of sediments of the lake, colonization of the new islands by flora and fauna species, water dynamics (by water flow and wave action by wind), erosion and sedimentation within and around the islands and biochemical processes in water and sediment.
  • Aim: 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.
  • Vision: 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.
  • Accomplished in 10 years from now: 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.
  • Uniqueness: 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.
  • 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.
  • Flagship species: Other
  • Other characteristics: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, Recreational activities, Research


  • 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.<br />
  • 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.<br />


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