Storm Surge Barrier Oosterschelde Ruins Ecosystem

Elevated sand shoals in the Oosterschelde are disappearing underwater. That is particularly a threat to migratory birds, which are resting and eating at these spots, says Natuurmonumenten. Seals also make use of them to suckle their young.

Cause of the problem is the storm surge barrier in the Oosterschelde (Oosterscheldekering). The coastal defense work is intended to preserve the ecosystem in the estuary, but the incoming water appears strong enough to remove sand from the shoals and mudflats but has insufficient power to deposit sand again.

A trial project of Natuurmonumenten, the department of Public Works and the province Zeeland, will in the fall spray 400,000 cubic meters of sand at the Oesterdam.


After the flood of the North Sea in 1953 (Watersnoodramp), it was decided to close off the Oosterschelde by means of a dam and barrier. This storm surge barrier or Oosterscheldekering is the largest part of the 13 ambitious Deltawerken, designed to protect a large part of the Netherlands from flooding. The four km long section in the Oosterschelde has huge sluice-gate-type doors that are normally open, but can be closed under adverse weather conditions.

In 2002 the Oosterschelde became a natural park. Having an area of 370 square kilometers, it is the largest national park in the Netherlands with a total shore length of 125 km.