In April 2024, the WaterLANDS consortium met for its third annual project meeting in Groningen, the Netherlands. The meeting was organised alongside our Restoration Cluster sister project REST-COAST. The projects share an Action Site in the Netherlands, the Ems-Dollard estuary. The restoration actions at the site were highlighted through activities and field trips throughout the week.

The Ems-Dollard estuary is located on the border between the Netherlands and Germany, where the river Ems meets the Wadden Sea, one of the world’s largest tidal systems. The estuary is renowned for its sandflats, mudflats and coastal salt marshes. The current shape of the Ems-Dollard estuary is strongly influenced by human actions. Starting from the Middle Ages, salt marshes were reclaimed by building dikes and coastal peatlands were drained for agricultural use, resulting in soil subsidence.

The conservation and restoration measures being implemented address key challenges associated with climate change, human activities and the dynamic nature of this ecosystem. Measures include sediment reduction, sludge capture and settlement, clay ripening for dike reinforcement, and wetland restoration. The restoration actions aim to improve the management of the coastal zones and estuary dynamics at this UNESCO World Heritage site.

The week-long event was attended by more than 100 participants, representing REST-COAST, WaterLANDS, as well as the other two Green Deal Restoration Cluster projects MERLIN and SUPERB. Representatives from local authorities were also present, and the meeting was opened with a speech by the King’s Commissioner Rene Paas. The meeting began with a two-day field trip across the Ems-Dollard, where the partners were able to explore some of the project areas such as the Breeding Island, Double Dike, the dikes of the city of Delfzijl, as well as the Marconi salt marshes.


Panel discussions, presentations and updates from the project partners continued through the remaining days of the meeting, which took place at the Forum Groningen. Organised by the Province of Groningen, who is a partner in both projects, the annual meeting of WaterLANDS and REST-COAST was a wonderful opportunity for cross-project connection, collaboration and fruitful discussions to further large-scale restoration.