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Windows in the dunes - the creation of sea inlets in the nature reserve de Westhoek in De Panne
Verwaest, T.; De Wolf, P.; Herrier, J.-L.; Leten, M. (2005). Windows in the dunes - the creation of sea inlets in the nature reserve de Westhoek in De Panne, in: Herrier, J.-L. et al. (Ed.) (2005). Proceedings 'Dunes and Estuaries 2005': International Conference on nature restoration practices in European coastal habitats, Koksijde, Belgium 19-23 September 2005. VLIZ Special Publication, 19: pp. 433-439
In: Herrier, J.-L. et al. (Ed.) (2005). Proceedings 'Dunes and Estuaries 2005': International Conference on nature restoration practices in European coastal habitats, Koksijde, Belgium 19-23 September 2005. VLIZ Special Publication, 19. Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee (VLIZ): Oostende. XIV, 685 pp., meer
In: VLIZ Special Publication. Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee (VLIZ): Oostende. ISSN 1377-0950, meer

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Documenttype: Congresbijdrage

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Abstract
    The Flemish Nature Reserve 'De Westhoek' constitutes together with the French public domain 'La Dune du Perroquet' a transborder coastal dune area of 700ha, situated between De Panne (Belgium) and Bray-Dunes (France). From high-tide mark to polders, the range of dunes has a width of nearly 2km. In the 1950s heavy storms beat a breach through the foredunes of 'La Dune du Perroquet'. Consequently, the seawater could penetrate through the breach into a dune slack during high high tides. This phenomenon is called a 'sea inlet', or a 'slufter'. The seawater could also top over the foredunes of the Belgian 'Westhoek' in those days (during storm tides), but at the end of the 1970s a concrete dunefoot revetment was built in front of the foredunes to prevent further coastal erosion. Sea inlets in the dunes are a rare phenomenon along the sandy coasts of the southern North Sea. They usually harbour a highly specialised bird life and salt-tolerant flora. The management plan for the Nature Reserve 'De Westhoek' that was approved in 1996, includes the creation of sea inlets by locally removing the concrete dunefoot revetment. As the coastal protection policy of the Flemish Regional Authority has evolved to a more dynamic and risk-based approach, the Coastal Division decided to create two sea inlets. Projects that have an influence on the hydrological system of natural areas are however subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment, so that an EIA had to be drawn up for the creation of two sea inlets. After the approval of the EIA by the competent authority and the delivery of a building permit, the works were carried out between January 2004 and June 2004. The two new sea inlets' surface totals approximately 1ha. The deflation zones where the sea inlets were created consisted originally of sandy plains that were thickly strewn with debris from demolished blockhouses and had a scarce Marram-grass (Ammophila arenaria) vegetation. The creation of sea inlets should allow the development of the natural habitats of the annex I of the European Habitat-directive '1310 (15.11) Salicornia and other annuals colonising mud and sand' and '2110 (16.211) Embryonic shifting dunes', and also offer breeding opportunity to at least Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) and Great Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula). The results and effects of the sea inlets on the salinity of the groundwater is being meticulously monitored.

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