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Waterman, R.E., Misdorp, R., Mol, A.: Interactions between water and land in The Netherlands. Journal of Coastal Conservation, 4: 115-126, 1998.


Abstract. The Netherlands are one of the most densely populated coastal countries in the world and there is only limited space for living, working, transport and recreation, while there is also the need to preserve and expand valuable natural habitats. In order to solve many existing and future conflicts of interest, and in order to create ‘added value’, strategies are developed to optimize the use of water-land systems. The principle of ‘building with nature’ is applied in order to integrate land in sea and water in land in such a way that future generations will be able to use coastal resources in a sustainable way, including a minimal effort to maintain the coastline and the promotion of a multiple-use system. The concept of Integrated multifunctional sustainable coastal zone development is introduced. This concept deals with a balanced approach to the lack of space for present and future coastal uses in relation to each other, to the hinterland, and to the sea. Flexible master plans are developed, taking into account many functions of the coastal zone, and facilitating adaptation to future developments – e.g. impacts of climate change and relative sea level rise. In this regard increasing the flexibility of the coastal zone is of vital importance. Large-scale coastal land reclamations in The Netherlands are dealt with, based on two different principles: (1) polder systems (low lying land reclamations surrounded and protected by dikes), (2) systems of ‘building with nature’ – land reclamation protected by man-made foreshores, beaches and dunes. In the latter type new flexible dynamic-equilibrium coasts are created with a minimum of ‘hard structures’. In this way space is provided for many functions, while coastal vulnerability is reduced and a flexible coast is developed.

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