Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund)

The Interreg IVB North Sea Region Programme

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Paddebeek wetland - small scale tidal wetland restoration in the freshwater zone of the Sea Scheldt (Zeeschelde)

Measure description

The Paddebeek wetland is a long and small area of 1.6 hectare in the freshwater zone of the Sea Scheldt (Zeeschelde), between Schoonaardebrug and Paddebeek, at the right bank of the Sea Scheldt (Zeeschelde).
At the location of the Paddebeek, they decided to shift the dike landward to the fishing lake and corn field. By doing so, a small tidal wetland could develop in an area of the Sea Scheldt (Zeeschelde) where tidal wetlands with mudflats and marshes are scarce (fresh water zone). This opportunity came along when the existing dike needed to be elevated to "Sigma-height", and several alternative locations were considered. Only at the ends, the dike was reinforced with stone rubble. In the central part, 3 terraces were installed (using wooden poles and willow wicker) at different heights to protect the dike. Where the old dike was removed, the substrate was reinforced with gabions (schanskorven) and a small stone rubble dike.

Besides the possibility to improve the connectivity in this area, developing this kind of habitat is expected to contribute in de reduction of tidal energy, increase of flood protection, improvement of oxygen condition, improvement of nutrient conditions, and improvement of self-purifying power.

The construction of the Paddebeek wetland fits in the frame of the Sigmaplan (management plan for flood defence in the Scheldt estuary), the dike needed to be broadened and elevated. Analysis of the evolution after restoration fits in with the decisions about the Development outline 2010 and Long Term Vision 2030 (Dutch and Flemish agreement on integrating accessibility, naturalness and flood safety) and the updated Sigmaplan (Flemish plan for flood protection combined with ecological objectives), of the Dutch and Flemish governments, that committed them to leap forward with the ecological rehabilitation of the Scheldt estuary. An important challenge is the creation of tidal wetlands by transformation of woods or agricultural land into tidal mudflats and marshes. In order to assess the feasibility and to identify possible problems any similar small scale projects, such as Paddebeek, already in place are studied in detail to improve our apprehension of the larger scale future plans.

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