The Netherlands: Facts About Building with Nature

This is the most recent information update in the IADC series of concise, easy-to-read “management summaries”, which give overviews of essential information on specific dredging and maritime construction subjects.

Facts About Building with Nature introduces a new approach to planning, designing and operating dredging and maritime infrastructure projects. Rather than presuming the worst – that a project will harm the natural environment and thus act defensively— Building with Nature seeks positive, pro-active opportunities using the dynamics of the natural system as the starting point.

The concept Building with Nature began in 1979 with the Dutch engineer Honzo Svašek and over the last thirty years has been expanded and promoted by Dr. Ronald E. Waterman who linked it to a policy of “integrated coastal and delta strategy”. With his support and advice a new institute “EcoShape” ( was founded in 2007-08. This private-public innovation programme has given a new impetus to researching the interface of nature and maritime infrastructure construction, with sustainable coastal development as the key motivating factor.

At about the same time a project in Belgium was launched known as “Flanders Bay 2100” ( in which ten specific cities and sites along the Flemish coastline have been targeted for applying the principles of Building with Nature to ensure the success of long-term coastal planning.

Since, clearly, dredging and maritime construction operations are an essential element in improving global economic and social welfare, it is incumbent upon us all to find an understanding and balance between development and nature. Facts About Building with Nature presents an introduction to the concept and principles, to its application in specific situations, why and when it should be implemented and how this can be done by cooperation between engineers, ecologists, regulators, project developers and all other stakeholders.

Working within the structure of Building with Nature can often mean the difference between a long-term, well-accepted project and no project at all.


Source: iadc-dredging, January 25, 2011