A Case Study Documenting Coastal Monitoring and Modelling Techniques in the Netherlands

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The Netherlands lies on the northern coast of Europe and is situated between Belgium in the southwest and Germany in the northeast. The Netherlands boarders the North Sea which stretches from Cap Blanc Nez (France) to the north part of Jutland (Denmark) and is subdivided in three sections: the Delta coast, the Holland coast and the Wadden coast. The Holland coast forms the middle section of the Dutch coast and consists of a closed coast dune areas, varying in width from less than one hundred metres to several kilometres (Eurosion, 2003). The Dutch coast is low-lying and thus extremely vulnerable to flooding and the potential risks of rising sea levels as a result of climate change. With 60% of the population living in low-lying areas and with 65% of the Gross National Product generated in coastal areas it is vital that coast protection and management are high on the national agenda. On the 1st January 1990, the Dutch Government introduced a national policy to ‘hold the line’ in coastal areas in order to protect this low-lying land. Much of the Holland coast serves a key economic function, encompassing tourism, port industries, bulb growing, water abstraction activities and fisheries. Behind the dunes lies the political (The Hague) and economical centre (Amsterdam and Rotterdam) of The Netherlands. Where possible soft engineering in the form of beach nourishment or beach recycling is used although in many cases, harder alternatives have been required. The Government is currently making plans for long-term coastal monitoring and management alternatives through a policy of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) but, with much of the general public unaware of the dangers they face as a result of coastal erosion and sea-level rise, the main priority is to educate and inform the nation. In the past, many coastal management initiatives have lacked the vision for the longer term and have concentrated on current and near-future threats. It is hoped by increasing awareness between stakeholders and the general public that a more holistic and long-term approach can be adopted.