What is it?
A large part of the Netherlands lies below sea level. Without coastal protection we would be unable to live, work and engage in recreation at all places in the country. Sandbanks, mudflats, salt marshes, beaches and dunes form a natural barrier against storm surges and marine flooding. Plants and animals are an inseparable part of these ecosystems and the great variation of types of areas (wet/dry and fresh/salt) ensures considerable biodiversity.
Protecting the hinterland is the most important ecosystem service provided by dunes. It is a service that is becoming more and more important because of the influx of people from rural areas into cities (urbanisation) and the rising sea level.
Dunes also play a key role in the purification of drinking water. Roughly 16% of Dutch drinking water comes from dunes. The coast is obviously a tourist attraction as well. This is not solely because of its natural landscape, but also because of the cultural history in evidence at characteristic seaside towns and villages. The coastal region is also relevant to nature, because 60% of all plant species in the Netherlands occur along the coast. They include numerous endangered species.
In real life
In the past the hydraulic spraying of sand was the usual way of elevating beaches, but today greater use is being made of natural processes, such as the 'Sand Engine'.
Besides economic benefits the pursuit of natural coastal protection has benefits for recreation and biodiversity in the dunes. The extraction of drinking water has caused a decline in the groundwater level in the dunes. This results in desiccation and the disappearance of moist dune flora and fauna. To stop this development, pretreated river water is allowed to infiltrate the dunes to enable the return of this flora and fauna.
De technische documentatie voor de ESD kustbescherming met daarin de beschrijving van de input en output kaarten kan hier worden gedownload.