The Netherlands has developed a brilliant and eco-friendly string of new, man-made islands by working on a major project since 2014. These five, Dutch Islands of tomorrow are called the Marker Wadden islands and are located in the province of Flevoland.
The beautiful island chain was built at the top of the shallow Markermeer Lake and funded via the Dutch PostCode Lottery. The cost was estimated at around $68 million. The archipelago is located on a 700 square kilometer expanse of water.
For years, the lake had an over-abundance of silt that wreaked havoc with the environment. The plan proposed to use the silt to create the Marker Wadden islands. The project was designed to simultaneously clean up the water and develop a new habitat for various kinds of plant and animal species.
Amazingly, some 120 bird species are calling the Marker Wadden their home and include gulls and geese, eider ducks, waders, spoonbills and cormorants. In addition, there are some 170 plant species growing on the archipelago with all kinds of insects and four types of bats.
The five islands were constructed through the initial development of a trench on the lake bottom. That is where silt could drain. From there, the silt was pumped into island-shaped forms that were arranged along the southern side of the dam.
Project director Roel Posthoorn, who is also the project director of the not-for-profit nature conservation movement, Natuurmonumenten, knew that the man-made islands could be successfully built. He was excited to rescue the lake and enhance the area’s biodiversity aspects.
It wasn’t always easy convincing the public how he could transform water into land, but he has achieved his dream, and today, one of the four islands is open to the public. The remaining four islands are untamed and free and there for the benefit of wildlife. The four are now undergoing a process of vegetation.
At the moment, no major development has been planned at the string of islands, so the soil does not have to be solid enough for supporting buildings. Instead, the soil features marshy collections of sandbars, mudflats, reed beds and shell reefs.
Best of all, the purity of the water is improving.
Recently, charter ferries have been taking visitors out on Makermeer Lake to see the islands and reconnect with nature. Also, a beach has been developed next to the marina, so the area is expected to attract a variety of folks from nature lovers to beach lovers to recreational enthusiasts. There are also bird-watching huts, a lookout tower and hiking trails for visitors to explore.
The Marker Wadden project has been hailed as one of Europe’s grandest, most ambitious and most innovative nature restoration initiatives ever.
Posthoorn is happy with the results and says that The Netherlands’ new, man-made islands “fit with our cultural identity.”