Climate change in the Netherlands – Pioneering coastal management
The Netherlands is a frontrunner in innovative coastal management. After all, around a third of the country is below sea level. As the Dutch set about modernizing their dykes, they hope that a marsh grass will help stem the rising tides.
In the Netherlands, climate change is far more than an abstract future danger. With sea levels rising, coastlines are set to be hit more frequently by floods in the future. Scientists at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research are looking for new ways of protecting their country’s dykes and seawalls. They discovered that common cordgrass can slow down incoming waves and soften their impact. The next challenge was how to plant the grass in mudflats without it being repeatedly washed away by the tides. Their solution: a lattice structure made of potato starch. In addition to coastal protection, however, the Netherlands also has researchers looking at the potential for using seaweed to benefit the climate as a food source or a plastic substitute. Elsewhere, a floating farm in Rotterdam produces dairy products while boasting a drastically lower carbon footprint. And Amsterdam is now home to neighborhoods comprising floating homes. On the coastal management and climate protection fronts, the Netherlands has expertise that is in growing global demand.