Stealing this land back to build entire cities is one of the many reasons the Dutch are renowned for their engineering skills when it comes to water. You can see a gif of this process below: And here’s a map showing during what time period each area was reclaimed: Here are a few more facts about land area of the Netherlands: 26% of its area is … At the moment, however, it is unclear which government agency is responsible for preventing further subsidence. How is the Netherlands preparing for rising sea levels? Coming from a mountainous country, the very sight of it makes the cogs in my brain twitch — how is the Netherlands so flat!? The Dutch used to repel foreign invaders by deliberately piercing river dikes. It's a miracle we still have dry feet here. Ouch! If you are dissatisfied with the website or any content or materials on it, your sole exclusive remedy is to discontinue your use of the website. To provide the agriculture needed to support a larger population, the Dutch created ditches to drain water from the peatland, and windmills were built to drain large tracts of land for cattle grazing and planting. To help prevent damage, new trees get foundations. The area of. skills when it comes to water. Three stages in the history of land reclamation in the Netherlands ... Yun Yuan, Evacuating offshore working barges from a land reclamation site in storm emergencies, Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, 10.1016/j.tre.2020.101902, 137, (101902), (2020). So now you know: the Netherlands is flat because of both natural geography and land reclamation. As early as in the 14th century the first reclaimed land had been settled. Unlike some politicians with *cough* bleached cats for toupees *cough*, the Dutch government does not ignore climate change, nor do they plan on building any walls. Older houses are especially vulnerable. The Dutch have to devise the most ingenious ways of fighting the sea to survive. Land reclamation in the Netherlands - WikiMili, The Free Encyclopedia - WikiMili, The Free Encyclopedia Land reclamation in the Netherlands has had a long history. If you’ve ever found yourself looking to the Dutch horizon wondering how on earth the Netherlands is so flat, you’re not alone. But most are unaware that these two icons of the Netherlands are responsible for causing the nation’s land to sink. indicating areaswon from the sea since 1200 AD and from drained lakes since 1600 AD. From a magnitude perspective, that comparison actually makes it seem feasible. As a result, the government has been slowing the rate of extraction and will stop it entirely by 2022. Since the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) sediments have been trapped from rivers or from the coast to make more land for farming, salt production, and aquaculture. Surinamese food in the Netherlands: have you tried these dishes? It was caused by a storm from the North Sea and killed over 2,100 people. You have entered an incorrect email address! Unlike some politicians with *cough* bleached cats for toupees *cough*, the Dutch government does not ignore, “We can’t just keep building higher levees, because we will end up living behind 10-metre walls,” senior government advisor, Harold van Waveren told the New York Times, . More than 40 years ago, the Dutch government planned to reclaim land from the Markermeer through this dredging process to increase Flevoland’s habitable … Learn how your comment data is processed. Actually, about 20% of all the land of the Netherlands was reclaimed from the sea! In June, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management sent a letter to parliament requesting a “government-wide” approach to the problem. Copyright © 2021 Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress. As sea levels rise as a result of climate change, the ground becomes comparatively lower, leaving large areas of the country even more vulnerable to catastrophic flooding. All Rights Reserved. In this way, the Dutch hope to continue to do what they have always done best — that is, to live with water rather than fight against it. In 1953, the Netherlands experienced a flood that killed more than 1,800 people. The Dutch aren’t the only ones suffering from the effects of subsidence: New Orleans, for example, faces similar problems, but largescale building only began there around 300 years ago. Polder ground is rich in clay, fertile, and yes, very flat. land, the nation sure is pumping a lot of money, brainpower and water into keeping its cities dry. Concerns have arisen over how sustainable the Room for the Water strategy really is. These areas were called, . This is to do with it being the drainage point of western Europe. These areas were called polders. But most are unaware that these two icons of the Netherlands are responsible for causing the nation’s land to sink. We're a nonprofit (so it's tax-deductible), and reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget. Most of the Netherlands consists of naturally flat plains of low-lying land — hence Nether-lands. – popular proverb The Dutch, living on a seacoast, save disappearing land by building protective dikes, and reclaiming marshland for agriculture, and have been doing so for a very long time. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, the publisher cannot accept responsibility for omissions and errors. On a national level, at least four ministries are involved. But the draining, now by pumping stations, is a far bigger factor in subsidence. In 1941 the draining of the polder started and in the year after, Schokland was an island no more. Otherwise, she and many of her neighbors would have had to directly foot the bill. About half of the land in the Netherlands is below sea level, but polders and dikes make more land available and less prone to flooding for the growing country. Since about one-third of the country is below sea level, the Dutch soon began to construct dikes, or low walls, to protect crops from flooding. , which are long walls or embankments used to stop large masses of water, were built around areas of the sea to section off where the new land would be. Around 500 B.C., inhabitants began constructing artificial hills, called terpen, which allowed the population to grow and settlements to become more permanent. Here are 5 great Dutch novels — that are fully translated in English! In addition, the country has one of the highest population densities in Europe. Considering how much of the country is on. How exactly the Dutch achieved this is truly impressive. Researchers, including Erkens, will undertake a five-year nationwide study to determine how fast the land is sinking. “If people may no longer live in their house due to safety reasons, they still have to pay their mortgage,” she says. Inexpensive, too! Stealing this land back to build entire cities is one of the many reasons the Dutch are renowned for their engineering skills when it comes to water. Four major rivers (the, Rhine, the Meuse, the Scheldt and the Eems). Immense damage was caused to areas in the provinces of South Holland, Zeeland, and North Brabant. In Vondelpark — Amsterdam’s answer to Central Park — municipal government workers measure tipping trees every day to predict when they are going to fall over as a result of sinking and rotting, says Geerten Kalter, a tree expert. For the past 2,000 years, the Dutch have employed ever-increasing ingenuity to not only hold back the sea, but to annex land from the North Sea. Yes, a recent project is very close to where I live. The dikes eventually grew larger and more elaborate, and were increasingly used to push back the sea. Homes were demolished and people displaced, and some fear that with rising sea levels, this will be the fate of many Dutch areas in the future. Considering how much of the country is on polder land, the nation sure is pumping a lot of money, brainpower and water into keeping its cities dry. Generally, this occurs for three reasons: extraction of natural resources like water or gas; added weight from the construction of buildings and roads; and ground water drainage, which in the Netherlands exposes the peat to air and causes it to break down through oxidation. Sources: Maps.com and NationalGeographic.com. “In 100 years, sea level rise as a result of climate change is a bigger problem for the Netherlands,” says Erkens. It’s also why much of Holland is so flat. Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do. The total increase in land area since that date amounts to some 650,000 ha, or about one quarter of the total land area of the Netherlands. The Zuiderzee in the Netherlands, on which the Flevoland was built, is only about 15 feet deep. , once a thriving farm region in the southwest of the Netherlands, is now only a watery marshland after it was designated as a flood-catchment zone for the project. As early as in the 14th century, the first reclaimed land had been settled. The Dutch take great pride in their struggle against the sea and reclaiming of land, which they view as … But so far, further action hasn’t been taken. Reclaimed areas along the coast arc usually rather Figure 2 Map of the Netherlands. It was caused by a storm from the North Sea and killed over 2,100 people. Around 17% of the country’s current land area has been reclaimed from the sea or lakes. Land reclamation in the Netherlands has a long history. And that has not always been the case! When I take a train from Belgium or Germany back into the Netherlands, I know I’m over the border when suddenly the horizon begins to stretch for hundreds of kilometers in front of me, completely undisturbed by hills or mountains. In the first century AD, Pliny the Elder described inland farmers constructing dams in tidal creeks to protect their land against high water. For Coevert’s part, she is working on creating a national fund to finance the repairs that will be needed as the land continues to drop. Some of the houses needed entirely new foundations, and the project ended up costing $1.3 million at current exchange rates. The Dutch dike system protects the Netherlands from flooding and disaster. We haven’t done any mitigation of land subsidence.”. Subscribe today and get a full year of Mother Jones for just $12. This is to do with it being the drainage point of western Europe. However, if not for the extensive waterworks, 65 percent of the Netherlands would be flooded permanently. The sinking can occur naturally: Around 0.03 millimeters per year — roughly three times the thickness of a piece of paper — is a normal result of plate movement in most places, according to Gilles Erkens, a senior geologist and subsidence expert at Deltares, a research institute focusing on water management. He says that requires digging out a 13-by-13-foot ditch, putting in posts, and making a platform. Afterward, they might taste one of the many varieties of cheese for which the nation is famous. By 1250, the country had created a connected system of sea and river dikes. What’s worse, the sinking may actually be contributing to climate change: A drop in the peat soil of just one centimeter results in the emission of about 9 tons of carbon dioxide per acre, says Gert Jan van den Born, a policy researcher at PBL. Why is the Netherlands so flat? More construction results in more pressing down of the peat — and more subsidence. By signing up, you agree to our privacy policy and terms of use, and to receive messages from Mother Jones and our partners. Now working on land subsidence issues for the city, Coevert says “there are around 20,000 houses in Rotterdam that will likely need this work done in the next 10 to 15 years.” Costs can reach as high as $111,000, per home. They have to create land to farm and to live. Listen on Apple Podcasts. Immense damage was caused to areas in the provinces of South Holland, Zeeland, and North Brabant. Beneath the peat in much of the country, however, is sand and clay, and while they dry out and compress at a slower rate than peat, over time both will sink as well. Now, that is true that The Netherlands is famous for reclaiming land, and the reason lies in its name (Netherlands = “low lands”). But the Room for the Water project has received some scepticism too. Ban on flights from South Africa to the Netherlands, no repatriation. The three border region of Vaals, where the Netherlands meets Germany and Belgium, is the highest point of the country — but it’s still only 323 meters high. Land reclamation, usually known as reclamation, and also known as land fill (not to be confused with a waste landfill), is the process of creating new land from oceans, seas, riverbeds or lake beds. This piece was originally published in Undark and appears here as part of our Climate Desk Partnership. How the Dutch reclaimed land from the sea, A whopping 17% of land in the Netherlands used to be under the sea with the fish! . “There’s a limit to how low you can go,” says Niezen. THE NETHERLANDS USED to be mostly soft peatland, with higher grounds as the only habitable places. Halfway into fixing the problems in Coevert’s neighborhood, they learned the local government had adapted a loan program, requiring stricter terms for the homeowners to reinforce their foundations. Making Holland a safe country was not easy: the Dutch had to fight for almost every square metre of land. She first came here for her Bachelors in Arts and Culture at Maastricht University and soon fell in love with the land of canals, clogs and cheese. Feature Image: @visitingthedutchcountryside/Instagram That accounts for a large part of overall CO2 emissions in the agricultural sector. Unsurprisingly, no agency wants to be responsible for footing the bill. The flooding of 1953 was the largest flooding disaster in the Netherlands on record and is known as the Watersnoodramp. Can you pitch in a few bucks to help fund Mother Jones' investigative journalism? Older houses were built on wooden piling which is now rotting, often costing millions of euros to replace. That disaster led to the development of the Delta Works, a hugely successful series of national construction projects that created the world’s largest storm barrier. The following video has some great animations to show you this process: You’ll wet your pants if you think about this too much but yes, 27% of the country lies below sea level (meaning about 10% of the Netherlands was already below sea level before land reclamation). Many Dutch cities are reinforced with underground poles by law to try and fight this. You may have heard that much of the Netherlands is built on sinking ground, and unfortunately, this is true. We noticed you have an ad blocker on. Sometimes the people won, sometimes it was the sea. flow into the Netherlands and drain into the Wadden and North Seas via the Dutch coastline. Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox. (In some areas, researchers put that number higher, at several centimeters per year.). The Netherlands uses the empoldering method to reclaim land. That doesn’t stand up to places like the Swiss Alps which are up to 4,634 metres above sea level! Along the coasts, land was reclaimed from the sea, and, in the interior, lakes and marshes were drained, especially alongside … The land reclaimed is known as reclamation ground or land fill.. So now you know: the Netherlands is flat because of both natural geography and land reclamation. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. using windmills, and plants were used to stabilize the ground. In 1936 work started on a large land reclamation project; the Noordoostpolder. You may have heard that much of the Netherlands is built on sinking ground, and unfortunately, this is true. It is called Maasvlakte 2 . The windmills were used for centuries to drain peatland for cattle grazing and agriculture at large, and that draining—these days done by pumping stations — is causing the land in some places to sink at an average rate of 8 millimeters per year, or about one-third of an inch. Holland originated in the early 12th century as a fief of the Holy And with the … Older houses were built on wooden piling which is now rotting, often costing millions of euros to replace. “We can’t just keep building higher levees, because we will end up living behind 10-metre walls,” senior government advisor Harold van Waveren told the New York Times. As the summers become increasingly warm, the clay-rich land dries faster and thus sinks faster. The Dutch agreement aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 49 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. But human activity can also cause the land to subside. “But for the next 100 years, subsidence is the most urgent danger for the country.”. A whopping 17% of land in the Netherlands used to be under the sea with the fish! In June 2018, the Dutch government released a draft climate agreement, as required to meet the goals of the 2016 United Nations Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is the case with a quarter of the land in the Netherlands, where the low elevation leaves the land vulnerable to floods. Some 2,500 square miles (6,500 square km) of the Netherlands consist of reclaimed land, the result of a process of careful water management dating back to medieval times. A crazy 21% of the 17-million Netherlanders reside quite blissfully in what used to be water. Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in September 2020 and was fully updated in December 2020 for your reading pleasure. The area of Noordwaard, once a thriving farm region in the southwest of the Netherlands, is now only a watery marshland after it was designated as a flood-catchment zone for the project. Aparthotel Adagio — have a long-stay in luxury (at an affordable price), The Dutch curfew declaration form: all you need to know if you have to be out late, Dutch parliament passes curfew: here’s all you need to know about the “avondklok”. A report by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency predicts around €5.2 billion will be needed to restore weak foundations by 2050. There are also some low hills in the southeast but none of them rise above 2,000 feet. “The problem is that we’ve been very good at adaptation to land subsidence,” says Erkens. And from the 16th century onwards land reclamation started in earnest – an activity that resulted in industrial sites that are now recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. “The western and northern parts of the country are the most susceptible to land subsidence,” says Niezen. Instead, the Dutch are building inland reservoirs to catch floodwaters in a project called Room for the Water. Let’s take a look at how each of these work. Almost the entire province of Flevoland was created by the Dutch by reclaiming the land from the sea! Terms of Service apply. T ourists visiting the Netherlands often stop to take selfies in front of one of the country’s more than 1,000 windmills. In this way, the Dutch hope to continue to do what they have always done best — that is, to live with water rather than fight against it. But now more people are noticing. While the system keeps Dutch feet dry, as the local saying goes, there has been much less focus on keeping the land from sinking. It's us but for your ears. At a certain point, building foundations begin to crack, sinkholes appear, roads destabilize, and the risk of flooding increases. When she's not daydreaming about sci-fi movies or countries yet to explore, you can find her writing for DutchReview. The seawater was then pumped out of the. In 1986, they created an entire province after spending decades reclaiming land from a lake. The continuous drainage that is required to keep parts of the country dry — now done by pumping stations rather than windmills — is causing the land to sink up to, This can cause huge problems for Dutch infrastructure, like cracking foundations, destabilized roads, sinkholes and an increased risk of flooding. What’s the difference between Holland and the Netherlands? https://emilycburger.wixsite.com/expression, Dutch architecture in South Africa you can still see today, Video: Incredible footage of 1920s Amsterdam in colour. The Netherlands is one of Europe's most densely populated countries, with more than one thousand people living on every square mile. Ouch! Coevert herself owed approximately $52,000, none of which was covered by insurance. It is estimated that 40% of the Netherlands lies below sea-level. The website may provide links to other websites on the Internet, the content of which is not in our control. Although the Netherlands are known as “Holland” around the world, Southern and Northern Holland are actually two of the twelve provinces of the Netherlands. Already, a few old, canals and quays in Amsterdam have collapsed. Partly in response to Coevert’s advocacy, the government temporarily reinstated more favorable terms for the loan program. “We don’t know who takes the lead,” says van den Born, noting that the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality has more recently begun taking responsibility. The simplest method of land reclamation involves simply filling the area with large amounts of heavy rock and/or cement, then filling with clay and soil until the desired height is reached. Land reclamation in the Netherlands has had a long history. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2021 demands. It's been said that the highest things in The Netherlands are the cows! The Dutch have gas fields in the northern part of the country, and gas extraction has been responsible for problems such as earthquakes. In the last century gaining land from water peaked with the IJsselmeerpolders, made possible by technical innovations. It’s also unclear who is ultimately responsible. This usage is commonly accepted in other countries and is also commonly employed by the Dutch themselves. “Climate change was a game changer,” says van den Born. *. Can you pitch in a few bucks to help fund Mother Jones' investigative journalism? It’s also why much of Holland is so flat. “Some of my neighbors hated me,” says Coevert. The seawater was then pumped out of the polders using windmills, and plants were used to stabilize the ground. A whopping 17% of land in the Netherlands used to be under the sea with the fish! Want your business to reach an unrivalled expat and international audience? Land reclamation is the process of creating new land from the sea. At nearly one sixth of the country’s entire territory, the Netherlands have reclaimed about 2,700 square miles of land. LELYSTAD, Netherlands — In this tiny, low-lying country, where much of the land has been clawed from the sea, people like to say that while God may have created the … The Netherlands has a centuries-long tradition of reclaiming land. This is an approach that other land reclamation projects can use to their advantage,’ believes Marcel van Gent. The Delta Works in the southwest of the country are one of the largest systems of dikes, locks, and storm barriers built to protect the Netherlands. The lowest point in the country currently sits at nearly 22 feet below sea level. The Netherlands often stop to take selfies in front of one of the country’s more than 1,000 windmills. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. But so far there has been no concerted nationwide effort to confront the subsidence problem. ground is rich in clay, fertile, and yes, very flat. But the Room for the Water project has received some scepticism too. At the same time, the country’s 12 provinces are responsible for land management and zoning laws. The Netherlands is known for its very low lying topography and reclaimed land called polders. Holland, historical region of the Netherlands, divided since 1840 into the provinces of Noord-Holland (North Holland) and Zuid-Holland (South Holland). And the damage isn’t limited to homes and other buildings. 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