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​Building for Nature

Nowadays, dykes and foreshores are seen as multifunctional constructions, in addition to their most important function as barriers against high tides. The objective of the project Building for Nature is to innovate the design process and the construction of dykes and foreshores from different functions: as an object that has an added value for nature and consequently appeals to multiple users such as divers, anglers, shellfish cultivators et cetera. Creating an ecosystem by using selected materials in special forms is called Building for Nature (BfN).

The building for Nature project
In order to optimise BfN designs, we need to know more about the relationships between physiological conditions, such as the water depth, wave power and the flow velocity, and the hydraulic measuring points such as the hardness and coarseness of the material and the cavities in and between objects and the use by plant and animal species. Moreover, the knowledge about these relationships must be translated into designs that are safe or safer, easy to maintain, technically and spatially feasible and cost-effective and that facilitate recreational or economical use to a maximum.

The research leads to new knowledge about how the presence of plant and animal species is related to the physiological environmental gradients and the dominant hydraulic variables. The research will also lead to new knowledge about design criteria for Bfn constructions that are easy to use in everyday life. This knowledge is used to develop tools for the professional practice and to innovate education at the HZ.

An important product of the project is the Expertise Tool BfN in which research results and practical documents and materials (including photos and videos) are structured by means of a process schedule (from design to implementation and management). It is made available to the user via the DeltaExpertise website. After the project, this product will be enriched / updated continuously because it will be used for education and because of the Community of Practise that is linked to it. Other results are a BfN handbook, a BfN leaflet BfN, a BfN masterclass, a research report, various publications, articles, presentations, workshops and a closing conference.

Research group Building with Nature of the HZ Delta Academy Applied Research Centre coordinates the project Building for Nature. Partners that are involved in this project include: The Department of Waterways and Public Works Sea and Delta [Zee en Delta], project agency Zeeweringen, Zeeuwse Stromen B.V., Haringman Betonwaren B.V., Deltares, IMARES Wageningen UR, Ecoshape Foundation, Roem van Yerseke and de Vereniging van beroepsvissers op de Ooster-, Westerschelde en Voordelta [the society of professional fishermen on the Eastern Scheldt, Western Scheldt and Voordelta].

Matthijs Boersema is the contact person for this project.


Anneke van den Brink Building with Nature researcher
João Salvador de Paiva Building with Nature researcher