Care for the environment remains one of the most urgent issues of our times. And it cannot be said often enough: Environmental preservation and remediation is a top priority for the dredging industry as well. For people in the dredging industry, that is a given. But for those outside of the industry â€“ for stakeholders, port authorities and government officials â€“ the connection between dredging and the environment is not always so obvious.
To demonstrate the numerous ways that dredging supports sound environmental policies, this issue of Terra et Aqua focuses on the strong environmental component in dredging works:
- The increasing threat to flora and fauna, which provide coastal protection, is of urgent concern, as tidal flats worldwide decrease because of sea level rise, subsidence by gas extraction and erosion initiated by human interventions such as construction projects. The lessons learnt from a pilot nourishment executed at the Galgeplaat tidal flat in 2008 (Eastern Scheldt, The Netherlands) are part of the â€śBuilding with Natureâ€ť programme, a joint venture of dredging companies, research institutes and the Dutch government.
- The port expansion project in the Voh region of New Caledonia is another project with a vital environmental component. Voh is an area that needs dredging for economic development and yet is guardian of a unique UNESCO World Heritage site. The remarkable efforts of the dredging company to validate the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) requirements included extensive monitoring campaigns, which are described here.
- The dredging communityâ€™s commitment to the intensive research conducted by third parties, which involves safety as well as environment, is reflected in an article on calculations for trench ploughing in sandy soil. With the growing demand for offshore wind energy, the number of submarine cables required to export the energy from wind farms to shore has also increased. Since these cables can be damaged when exposed on the sea bed, adequate protection is a critical factor in cable installation and the demand for detailed knowledge of actual burial capacities of the plough has increased.
The international dredging industryâ€™s concern for the environment is evident in the ongoing interaction between the industry and researchers at universities, knowledge institutes and engineering companies, as well as contractorsâ€™ own in-house R&D departments. Remaining on the cutting edge of environmental technology is a challenge for the industry that is taken very seriously. Working with experts and colleagues who share their dedication is key to a sound environmental future and to the continued advances in the industry.
Dredging Today Staff, March 15, 2012; Image: Terra et Aqua