The Dutch islands of tomorrow

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Age: 2021
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From the Lelystad dock, the Markermeer could hardly seem less remarkable. Reinforced by unlovable concrete slipways, the shallow lake, also considered an inland sea, stretches for some 40km, flooding a 700sq-km expanse of the central Netherlands. At its most southerly point, it just about reaches Amsterdam, and to the north, west and east it continues to the towns of Enkhuizen, Hoorn and Lelystad, places most people wouldn't ever think about visiting.
Yet for all the brutalism on display, there is a tremendous amount of beauty beyond what can be seen from the shore. For away from the lakefront, the Markermeer’s glassy-calm interior is home to an ambitious land reclamation project that is now one of Europe’s most exciting conservation stories. And to think, three years ago, it only existed as an idea on paper.
This is the Marker Wadden, a man-made archipelago of five islands in the province of Flevoland. On the day I visited in September, I was joined by project director Roel Posthoorn, whose vision has turned the deepest part of the lake into a spectacular wildlife pocket of thriving marshlands, reed beds and bird breeding grounds.

At the latest count, some 120 species of birds have arrived at Marker Wadden (Credit: Mike MacEacheran)

At the latest count, some 120 species of birds have arrived. There are geese, gulls, eider ducks, cormorants, waders, spoonbills and more than 2,200 nesting common terns. Its colony of pink-tinged avocets is now the biggest of its kind in the Netherlands. An audible hum from resident sand martins descends when mooring at the rudimentary boardwalk harbor. You can count bats (four different types) and insects, plus 170 different species of plants, too. It’s an unprecedented feat of rewilding in a turbid, neglected landscape that until now has been written off.
Bird tracks in the sand - hopping to the beach on the southern side - led us to the islands' rawest part: an uncultivated, waterlogged basin created days before our arrival by a fleet of sand dredgers (industrial cranes on pontoons) harvesting silt, clay and sugar-grain shells from the bed of the 4m-deep sea to build the island with. Hard to fathom, it was the newest piece of land on Earth.
"Welcome to Europe’s new coastline," said Posthoorn, as we stood ankle-deep on a mudflat, gazing at the Eden-in-the-making. "By the end of next week, this will look completely different. Then, when our involvement draws to a close next year, nature will completely take over. "
Nowadays, loss of biodiversity is such an incomprehensible challenge that the solutions need to be extraordinary. For Posthoorn, who is also the project director of Natuurmonumenten, a Netherlands' not-for-profit nature conservation movement, the idea was born out of frustration.

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Posted 08 Jun 2020

I was recently in the Dutch Islands. This is a great country. Nature is very beautiful. It is only a pity that there are no luxury hotels such as in the United Arab Emirates. I’m just used to relax in comfort and luxury because I earn a lot of money playing poker. If you don`t play poker well, you can find out pokie secrets. It is very easy to play, but there are also few poker establishments in the Netherlands. And so it was just fantastic)
Posted 19 Jun 2020

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