Early June, the Living Lab Ecological Engineering Scheldt Delta was given the green light on the initiative of the Delta Academy, part of the HZ University of Applied Sciences. 

Practice-oriented research is conducted in this living lab to find new solutions for water safety, nature, liveability and recreation to counter the effects of climate change, sea level rise and subsidence. ‘Building with Nature’ is the starting point for all this. Collaborating to find answers to practical questions — and the knowledge resulting from this — is educational for students of the HZ Delta Academy, as well as the industry, governments, knowledge institutions and nature organisations that are active in the region. 

Ecological engineering and Living Lab Ecological engineering, also known as ‘Building with Nature’ is a new field that integrates the knowledge of engineering and ecology. It is examined how natural materials, organisms and vegetation contribute to protective structures and landscapes. Knowledge of ecological engineering is a prerequisite to design and build ecosystems that benefit society as well as nature and landscape. The Living Lab Scheldt Delta combines the implementation of projects with enhancing the knowledge about building with nature. Students and professionals will work together in the lab.

Initial proposals

  • An undersea laboratory will be created at the dock of the NIOZ in Yerseke to test the hard substrate that can be used to enrich the deepwater environment at wind farms and sea dykes.
  • Proposals have been made to reduce the emission of CO2 during beach nourishments, and to use oyster reefs, mussel beds and salt marches to protect the coast. 
  • Various parties will start the atelier Dynamic Coastal Landscape. Along the coasts of Schouwen, Walcheren and Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, practice-oriented research will be conducted into combining coastal protection, nature and recreation to support the coastal vision.
  • The international Interreg projects Building with Nature and Smartsediment will look, at different places in Europe, at the government and social acceptance of building with nature. The living lab in the Scheldt Delta is now in line with this.
  • Het Zeeuwse Landschap [Zeeland landscape], the University of Antwerp and the HZ Delta Academy will regulate and monitor the ecosystem services of Perkpolder, Waterdunen and Hedwigepolder.
  • Big data and satellite observations will be used to maintain the port, nature and agricultural areas.
  • The US Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Waterways in the United States, will contribute to the Living Lab Ecological Engineering Scheldt Delta by exchanging knowledge. 

With these, and other initiatives, new knowledge will be created to increase the resilience of the Scheldt Delta and to strengthen the knowledge economy in the region. 

Contribution to the implementation of policy plans in Zeeland The Living Lab Ecological Engineering is supported by, among others, Rijkswaterstaat, Van Oord, Witteveen+Bos, Zeeland Seaports, Staatsbosbeheer, Natuurmonumenten, Zeeuwse Milieufederatie, het Zeeuwse Landschap, Wageningen Marine Research, NIOZ, Deltares, Provincie Zeeland, US Army Corps of Engineers and HZ Delta Academy. The initiative contributes to various implementation agendas and policy plans, such as Convenant Duurzame Havenontwikkeling Westerschelde 2030 [Sustainable Port Development Western Scheldt 2013], Coastal Vision, Flood risk management plans and Nature Visions for the Western and Eastern Scheldt.