For centuries, estuaries have been impacted by habitat reclamation, pollution, hydrological alterations and dredging among many other human uses leading to a large loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. It is only recently that estuarine restoration became a hot topic and now many restoration projects are implemented worldwide.
The Schelde estuary situated in the north of Flanders and the south of the Netherlands is a typical example of this development. More than 150.000 ha of intertidal area was reclaimed over the last 1000 years and in the 20th century a large part of the estuary was anoxic for most of the year. Major waste water treatment and restoration works have taken place resulting in the improvement of the water quality and the recovery of the estuarine food web. Habitat restoration takes place at a large scale and range from vegetation management to managed retreat. In total more than 4000 ha of natural habitat will be restored. New techniques like flood control areas with controlled reduced tide were developed and implemented. The major project, the Kruibeke Bazel Rupelmonde flood control area, in total some 700 ha, becomes operational at the end of 2015 resulting in more than 300 ha of new tidal marshes.
To celebrate this event, the University of Antwerp (together with other local partners, universities and institutes) is organising an ECSA Local Meeting on estuarine restoration. The aim of the meeting is to bring together scientists and practitioners from all over the world to exchange ideas and discuss the field of estuarine restoration.
Major topics dealt with during the conference are:
- Setting the objectives of restoration
- What measure is fit for which objective?
- Evaluation of restoration measures: are the objectives achieved?
- Ecosystem services: a driving force for future restoration?
- Planning for estuarine restoration
- The role of environmental legislation as a driver for restoration
The conference will bring together both scientists and practitioners and result in new insights in the important field of estuarine restoration and lead to guidelines and concepts for further estuarine restoration projects.