The estuary of the Yser: a site in transition

This unique piece of nature reserve is located at Nieuwpoort, at the right bank of the river Yser where it meets the sea. The ecosystem with mudflats and salt marshes has been restored to a more natural reserve over the last few years. In 1996 Ghent University, together with INBO worked out a nature restoration plan, and all Navy buildings and road that were located in this reserve were removed in the period between 1999 and 2003. These measures made the recovery of nature more easy over the last decade. Over the last few years it has become clear that the efforts were not in vain. The reserve is now internationally known for its high recreational value. The visions and different projects that made this change possible are explained by experts in the field of spatial planning, coastal defense and tourism during this excursion.

The Zwin: a Cross-border cooperation (CBC)

The Zwin is a nature reserve at the North Sea coast, on the Belgian-Dutch border. The reserve consists out of mudflats and salt marshes embraced by dunes and polders which are all part of the Natura 2000 – network. Over the course of time, humans had clearly left their traces in this region. With the help of European funding the historical damage has been restored. Today’s nature serve has been founded in 1952 and covers an area of 1.58 square kilometers. It is famous for its large variety in salt-resistant flora, such as Sea lavender. Besides that it is also popular with bird watchers. There is a small zoo with some major domestic birds and it is one of the few places in Belgium with a population of white storks. The cross-border cooperation between Belgium and Holland is trying to give this nature reserve the attention it deserves.

Port of Zeebrugge: impact of an evolution, reaction of the environment

In the last 20 years Zeebrugge has become a multifaceted port that handles a wide range of trades: unit loads (trailers and containers), new cars, conventional general cargo, 'high & heavy' cargoes, dry and liquid bulk cargoes and natural gas. From a purely transit port Zeebrugge has gradually evolved into a centre for European distribution. This evolution had a very large impact on the local community, on the landscape, the coastal zone and the environment. This influence will only grow bigger in the future and we have to take precautions now. Especially in the field of harbor accessibility we have to expand our view on different possibilities. Where the focus is now mainly on expanding the accessibility by land, we have to consider expanding the accessibility by sea as well. Within this excursions we want to focus on all the different possibilities to create better access to this rapidly growing harbor.

Wind farms in the Belgian Coastal Zone

Currently there are five defined areas in the Belgian Coastal Zone, with a total of 120 square kilometers, for the creation of wind farms. The construction of these structures has its influence on several marine related businesses. For example: these construction sites are located in the deeper parts of the BCZ and hereby reduce the accessible fishing areas with 6%. In this excursions all aspects are discussed related to the construction and the influences of these wind farms. You can expect answers from experts to the following questions. What methods were used for the construction of these windmills? Which damage or benefits do they cause for fisheries? What is the impact of these farms on the benthos? Can these areas be seen as a marine reserve? Do these areas provide enough safety for marine life? The excursions also includes a visit to one of the defined areas in the BCZ.

Backup excursion (only when the wind farm visit is being cancelled):

Ostend: City at the Belgian coast to live and to work in a safe environment

Coastal defense has been a worldwide important topic over the last decade. As one of the biggest coastal towns in Belgium Ostend could not afford to flush this topic down the drain. Many projects started since the beginning of the new millennium and some of them are still in progress today. A part of the seawall has been renewed and made stronger to withstand heavier storms, new breakwaters were designed to provide shelter for the harbor and are being constructed at this time, the old pier has been renovated,… New projects with the newest insights and knowledge are being created every year to provide the city with the best possible protection against the threats of the sea.

Afdeling Kust ANB Coastal & Marine IOC IODE FOD Marine Board - ESF Coördinatiepunt Provincie West-Vlaanderen Oostende VLIZ
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