What do they do
Growing with the sea
Without its dikes and dunes, the West Netherlands would be flooded every day all the way to Amersfoort. Our sea defence - the dunes - is raised in a natural way with sand. In natural climate buffers, natural sedimentation is given free rein again. More sea sand therefore enables land mass to grow and expand so that attacks by the sea are diffused over a wider area. This makes the Netherlands safer again. The island of Ameland subsided by 30 cm in recent years as a result of gas extraction. This is comparable to a rising sea level. Nature appeared to be able to deal with this decline.
Sedimentation and peat formation
From time immemorial, rivers and streams have been able to flow freely through the Netherlands, depositing sand and sediment in the delta, thus forming new land. Currently, the canalized rivers discharge sediment into the sea. Natural climate buffers use silting-up processes to build up the land and protect it against high tides.
Peat formation used to keep pace with the water level. Drainage, however, erodes and compacts peat soil. By halting the drainage, the compaction stops and results in the growth of marshes. This enables the peat soil to grow again and the land to slowly rise.
Dikes and terps
Dikes protect our country against the water, but their construction and maintenance require continuous financing; and if a dike breaks it causes considerable distress and damage. But there are other alternatives. For example, terps, i.e. man-made dwelling mounds. They are located in an elevated position and substantially reduce the risk of flooding. These terps can accommodate a church, or a complete town, neighbourhood or industrial park. And they can be connected with each other. Water can be stored around the terps during wet periods, to be used later in times of drought.
A relief map of the Netherlands shows that many nature reserves in the West Netherlands are situated at a higher elevation than the surrounding farmland. By letting the Netherlands again grow with the sea, wherever feasible, the natural resilience of our country will be increased. The use of natural climate buffers, in addition to deploying technical solutions, offers the best opportunities for making the Netherlands climate-proof. Furthermore, expansive and robust climate buffers literally give nature the space to adapt to climate changes.