In the southeast, the land is higher and there are some hills. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and This includes major cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Delft. This is an approach that other land reclamation projects can use to their advantage,’ believes Marcel van Gent. “The western and northern parts of the country are the most susceptible to land subsidence,” says Niezen. The three border region of Vaals, where the Netherlands meets Germany and Belgium, is the highest point of the country — but it’s still only 323 meters high. Reclaiming land is nothing new in China. In June 2018, the Dutch government released a draft climate agreement, as required to meet the goals of the 2016 United Nations Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s also why much of Holland is so flat. The flooding of 1953 was the largest flooding disaster in the Netherlands on record and is known as the. The Dutch agreement aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 49 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. It was caused by a storm from the North Sea and killed over 2,100 people. The seawater was then pumped out of the. Since about one-third of the country is below sea level, the Dutch soon began to construct dikes, or low walls, to protect crops from flooding. The Netherlands uses the empoldering method to reclaim land. Many Dutch cities are reinforced with underground poles by law to try and fight this. But the Room for the Water project has received some scepticism too. Older houses are especially vulnerable. We haven’t done any mitigation of land subsidence.”. If we go back some centuries, the Netherlands of that time looked completely different from the present day. The lowest point in the country currently sits at nearly 22 feet below sea level. In June, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management sent a letter to parliament requesting a “government-wide” approach to the problem. And that has not always been the case! If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2021 demands. Already, a few old canals and quays in Amsterdam have collapsed. ground is rich in clay, fertile, and yes, very flat. It turns out a combination of geography and land reclamation from the sea is the source of the ruler-straight horizon. Holland, historical region of the Netherlands, divided since 1840 into the provinces of Noord-Holland (North Holland) and Zuid-Holland (South Holland). Why is the Netherlands so flat? Land reclamation in the Netherlands has a long history. Almost the entire province of Flevoland was created by the Dutch by reclaiming the land from the sea! Land reclamation is the process of creating new land from the sea. Older houses were built on wooden piling which is now rotting, often costing millions of euros to replace. Immense damage was caused to areas in the provinces of South Holland, Zeeland, and North Brabant. Here are 5 great Dutch novels — that are fully translated in English! And from the 16th century onwards land reclamation started in earnest – an activity that resulted in industrial sites that are now recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Martine Coevert bought her first apartment in 2010 in the port city of Rotterdam, which is sinking 1 to 1.5 centimeters per year according to the city. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, the publisher cannot accept responsibility for omissions and errors. Listen on Apple Podcasts. Despite this disruption of the land, the Netherlands still has an extraordinary archaeological and historical record. Inexpensive, too! Halfway into fixing the problems in Coevert’s neighborhood, they learned the local government had adapted a loan program, requiring stricter terms for the homeowners to reinforce their foundations. The Netherlands is known for its very low lying topography and reclaimed land called polders. Holland originated in the early 12th century as a fief of the Holy As a result, few people have been aware of the growing crisis, including Niezen, who didn’t give the subsidence problem much thought until she became an alderman. When I take a train from Belgium or Germany back into the Netherlands, I know I’m over the border when suddenly the horizon begins to stretch for hundreds of kilometers in front of me, completely undisturbed by hills or mountains. In the last century gaining land from water peaked with the IJsselmeerpolders, made possible by technical innovations. Feature Image: @visitingthedutchcountryside/Instagram “The Netherlands has been building here for 1,000 years,” says Niezen. “The problem is that we’ve been very good at adaptation to land subsidence,” says Erkens. The name Holland is also frequently used informally to refer to the whole of the country of the Netherlands. In this way, the Dutch hope to continue to do what they have always done best — that is, to live with water rather than fight against it. Unsurprisingly, no agency wants to be responsible for footing the bill. Reclaimed areas along the coast arc usually rather Figure 2 Map of the Netherlands. Many buildings constructed before 1975 were built on wooden pilings beneath their brick foundations. https://emilycburger.wixsite.com/expression, Dutch architecture in South Africa you can still see today, Video: Incredible footage of 1920s Amsterdam in colour. Ban on flights from South Africa to the Netherlands, no repatriation. It's us but for your ears. “There’s a limit to how low you can go,” says Niezen. Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation. About half of the land in the Netherlands is below sea level, but polders and dikes make more land available and less prone to flooding for the growing country. The western region is also the most densely populated, with an estimated 9 million people, or more than half the country’s population. They have to create land to farm and to live. You can see a gif of this process below: And here’s a map showing during what time period each area was reclaimed: Here are a few more facts about land area of the Netherlands: 26% of its area is … Four major rivers (the Rhine, the Meuse, the Scheldt and the Eems) flow into the Netherlands and drain into the Wadden and North Seas via the Dutch coastline. These areas were called polders. Singapore reclaimed over 6,000 hectares to enlarge the island from the original 65,000 hectares to 71,000 hectares to answer its need for more urban lands. The Dutch aren’t the only ones suffering from the effects of subsidence: New Orleans, for example, faces similar problems, but largescale building only began there around 300 years ago. Let’s take a look at how each of these work. “In 100 years, sea level rise as a result of climate change is a bigger problem for the Netherlands,” says Erkens. We noticed you have an ad blocker on. The large water engineering works of the past centuries, culminating in the Delta Works, are examples of our victories over the sea. Unlike some politicians with *cough* bleached cats for toupees *cough*, the Dutch government does not ignore, “We can’t just keep building higher levees, because we will end up living behind 10-metre walls,” senior government advisor, Harold van Waveren told the New York Times, . But so far there has been no concerted nationwide effort to confront the subsidence problem. At the same time, the country’s 12 provinces are responsible for land management and zoning laws. Coming from a mountainous country, the very sight of it makes the cogs in my brain twitch — how is the Netherlands so flat!? This usage is commonly accepted in other countries and is also commonly employed by the Dutch themselves. What do you need to know about the Netherlands? “Then you can plant the tree on top,” he says. All material on this website (DutchReview) is strictly copyright and all rights reserved. It is estimated that 40% of the Netherlands lies below sea-level. Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. The Dutch take great pride in their struggle against the sea and reclaiming of land, which they view as … Land reclamation in the Netherlands has had a long history. When she's not daydreaming about sci-fi movies or countries yet to explore, you can find her writing for DutchReview. But human activity can also cause the land to subside. The sinking can occur naturally: Around 0.03 millimeters per year — roughly three times the thickness of a piece of paper — is a normal result of plate movement in most places, according to Gilles Erkens, a senior geologist and subsidence expert at Deltares, a research institute focusing on water management. *. The Netherlands is mostly coastal lowland and reclaimed land (polders). The continuous drainage that is required to keep parts of the country dry — now done by pumping stations rather than windmills — is causing the land to sink up to, This can cause huge problems for Dutch infrastructure, like cracking foundations, destabilized roads, sinkholes and an increased risk of flooding. Around 500 B.C., inhabitants began constructing artificial hills, called terpen, which allowed the population to grow and settlements to become more permanent. You may have heard that much of the Netherlands is built on sinking ground, and unfortunately, this is true. Land reclamation, usually known as reclamation, and also known as land fill (not to be confused with a waste landfill), is the process of creating new land from oceans, seas, riverbeds or lake beds. Immense damage was caused to areas in the provinces of South Holland, Zeeland, and North Brabant. We're a nonprofit (so it's tax-deductible), and reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget. Holland is a region and former province on the western coast of the Netherlands. As early as in the 14th century the first reclaimed land had been settled. The Netherlands often stop to take selfies in front of one of the country’s more than 1,000 windmills. The website may provide links to other websites on the Internet, the content of which is not in our control. In order to create extra living space and agricultural land, a whole new province has been reclaimed from the water: Flevoland. The continuous drainage that is required to keep parts of the country dry — now done by pumping stations rather than windmills — is causing the land to sink up to seven millimetres per year. Considering how much of the country is on polder land, the nation sure is pumping a lot of money, brainpower and water into keeping its cities dry. Beneath the peat in much of the country, however, is sand and clay, and while they dry out and compress at a slower rate than peat, over time both will sink as well. Although the Netherlands are known as “Holland” around the world, Southern and Northern Holland are actually two of the twelve provinces of the Netherlands. In 1941 the draining of the polder started and in the year after, Schokland was an island no more. In this way, the Dutch hope to continue to do what they have always done best — that is, to live with water rather than fight against it. Making Holland a safe country was not easy: the Dutch had to fight for almost every square metre of land. But the Room for the Water project has received some scepticism too. Surinamese food in the Netherlands: have you tried these dishes? Two-thirds of The Netherlands has been reclaimed to answer the city’s flood problem. The dikes eventually grew larger and more elaborate, and were increasingly used to push back the sea. Some 2,500 square miles (6,500 square km) of the Netherlands consist of reclaimed land, the result of a process of careful water management dating back to medieval times. The Netherlands has a centuries-long tradition of reclaiming land. From a magnitude perspective, that comparison actually makes it seem feasible. The country is indeed low-lying and remarkably flat, with large expanses of lakes, rivers, and canals. The complete explainer, It turns out a combination of geography and, Most of the Netherlands consists of naturally flat plains of low-lying land — hence, lands. This is to do with it being the drainage point of western Europe. Last year, the Dutch announced their first overall assessment of the issue. – popular proverb The Dutch, living on a seacoast, save disappearing land by building protective dikes, and reclaiming marshland for agriculture, and have been doing so for a very long time. The Dutch have gas fields in the northern part of the country, and gas extraction has been responsible for problems such as earthquakes. Want your business to reach an unrivalled expat and international audience? Now, that is true that The Netherlands is famous for reclaiming land, and the reason lies in its name (Netherlands = “low lands”). It’s also why much of Holland is so flat. Some of the houses needed entirely new foundations, and the project ended up costing $1.3 million at current exchange rates. But so far, further action hasn’t been taken. > Is the Netherlands still reclaiming land? “If people may no longer live in their house due to safety reasons, they still have to pay their mortgage,” she says. Afterward, they might taste one of the many varieties of cheese for which the nation is famous. Generally, this occurs for three reasons: extraction of natural resources like water or gas; added weight from the construction of buildings and roads; and ground water drainage, which in the Netherlands exposes the peat to air and causes it to break down through oxidation. For the past 2,000 years, the Dutch have employed ever-increasing ingenuity to not only hold back the sea, but to annex land from the North Sea. The Dutch dike system protects the Netherlands from flooding and disaster. Can you pitch in a few bucks to help fund Mother Jones' investigative journalism? A crazy 21% of the 17-million Netherlanders reside quite blissfully in what used to be water. Around 17% of the country’s current land area has been reclaimed from the sea or lakes. But while the system keeps Dutch feet dry, as the local saying goes, there has been much less focus on keeping the land from sinking. If you have found material on this website which is copyrighted by others, please contact the webmaster on this matter in order to have it removed. You may have heard that much of the Netherlands is built on sinking ground, and unfortunately, this is true. If those pilings become exposed to air, they rot. (In some areas, researchers put that number higher, at several centimeters per year.). “But for the next 100 years, subsidence is the most urgent danger for the country.”. And with the … The simplest method of land reclamation involves simply filling the area with large amounts of heavy rock and/or cement, then filling with clay and soil until the desired height is reached. “But all we’ve done is adaptation. Can you pitch in a few bucks to help fund Mother Jones' investigative journalism? A whopping 17% of land in the Netherlands used to be under the sea with the fish! It is called Maasvlakte 2 . So now you know: the Netherlands is flat because of both natural geography and land reclamation. In 1936 work started on a large land reclamation project; the Noordoostpolder. This can cause huge problems for Dutch infrastructure, like cracking foundations, destabilized roads, sinkholes and an increased risk of flooding. The area of Noordwaard, once a thriving farm region in the southwest of the Netherlands, is now only a watery marshland after it was designated as a flood-catchment zone for the project. More construction results in more pressing down of the peat — and more subsidence. In the first century AD, Pliny the Elder described inland farmers constructing dams in tidal creeks to protect their land against high water. , once a thriving farm region in the southwest of the Netherlands, is now only a watery marshland after it was designated as a flood-catchment zone for the project. Stealing this land back to build entire cities is one of the many reasons the Dutch are renowned for their engineering skills when it comes to water. He says that requires digging out a 13-by-13-foot ditch, putting in posts, and making a platform. As a result, the government has been slowing the rate of extraction and will stop it entirely by 2022. The following video has some great animations to show you this process: You’ll wet your pants if you think about this too much but yes, 27% of the country lies below sea level (meaning about 10% of the Netherlands was already below sea level before land reclamation). Only 9 percent of the land is now peat, thanks to agriculture, grazing, and construction. Ouch! As the summers become increasingly warm, the clay-rich land dries faster and thus sinks faster. Unfortunately, you also need to consider depth. Stealing this land back to build entire cities is one of the many reasons the. At nearly one sixth of the country’s entire territory, the Netherlands have reclaimed about 2,700 square miles of land. There are 21, grouped by watershed region, and they are responsible for maintaining the waterways, dikes, and wastewater treatment. It’s also unclear who is ultimately responsible. Land reclamation in the Netherlands - WikiMili, The Free Encyclopedia - WikiMili, The Free Encyclopedia Land reclamation in the Netherlands has had a long history. Another place to find more info is Atlapedia.com Aparthotel Adagio — have a long-stay in luxury (at an affordable price), The Dutch curfew declaration form: all you need to know if you have to be out late, Dutch parliament passes curfew: here’s all you need to know about the “avondklok”. by law to try and fight this. The windmills were used for centuries to drain peatland for cattle grazing and agriculture at large, and that draining—these days done by pumping stations — is causing the land in some places to sink at an average rate of 8 millimeters per year, or about one-third of an inch. Instead, the Dutch are building inland reservoirs to catch floodwaters in a project called. The Dutch used to repel foreign invaders by deliberately piercing river dikes. So, after puzzling for days, I went and found out. Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights. Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in September 2020 and was fully updated in December 2020 for your reading pleasure. In 1986, they created an entire province after spending decades reclaiming land from a lake. How the Dutch reclaimed land from the sea. This subsidence means that in a low-lying nation famous for engineering its way around rising seas, the ground is also sinking lower, creating huge problems for the structures built on top. Draining of submerged wetlands is often used to reclaim land for agricultural use. The participants include a few of the most impacted cities in the country, as well as national insurance companies and banks. Subscribe today and get a full year of Mother Jones for just $12. At the moment, however, it is unclear which government agency is responsible for preventing further subsidence. THE NETHERLANDS USED to be mostly soft peatland, with higher grounds as the only habitable places. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. More than 40 years ago, the Dutch government planned to reclaim land from the Markermeer through this dredging process to increase Flevoland’s habitable … How the Dutch reclaimed land from the sea, A whopping 17% of land in the Netherlands used to be under the sea with the fish! And the damage isn’t limited to homes and other buildings. You have entered an incorrect email address! On a national level, at least four ministries are involved. Are you impressed by amazing Dutch innovation? Regionally, water management is controlled by water boards, which are elected bodies. But most are unaware that these two icons of the Netherlands are responsible for causing the nation’s land to sink. But most are unaware that these two icons of the Netherlands are responsible for causing the nation’s land to sink. “We don’t know who takes the lead,” says van den Born, noting that the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality has more recently begun taking responsibility. Learn how your comment data is processed. Climate change is also contributing to the nation’s downward direction. Terms of Service apply. It was caused by a storm from the North Sea and killed over 2,100 people. It's been said that the highest things in The Netherlands are the cows! The Dutch have to devise the most ingenious ways of fighting the sea to survive. Researchers, including Erkens, will undertake a five-year nationwide study to determine how fast the land is sinking. These areas were called, . But the draining, now by pumping stations, is a far bigger factor in subsidence. The Zuiderzee in the Netherlands, on which the Flevoland was built, is only about 15 feet deep. Actually, about 20% of all the land of the Netherlands was reclaimed from the sea! Yes, a recent project is very close to where I live. That, in turn, led to an increase in demand for land. Now working on land subsidence issues for the city, Coevert says “there are around 20,000 houses in Rotterdam that will likely need this work done in the next 10 to 15 years.” Costs can reach as high as $111,000, per home. by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency predicts around €5.2 billion will be needed to restore weak foundations by 2050. Older houses were built on wooden piling which is now rotting, often costing millions of euros to replace. The area of. The flooding of 1953 was the largest flooding disaster in the Netherlands on record and is known as the Watersnoodramp. In Vondelpark — Amsterdam’s answer to Central Park — municipal government workers measure tipping trees every day to predict when they are going to fall over as a result of sinking and rotting, says Geerten Kalter, a tree expert. Otherwise, she and many of her neighbors would have had to directly foot the bill. . In 1986, the Netherlands proclaimed the new 12th province of Flevoland, but they didn't carve out the province from already existing Dutch land nor did they annex the territory of their neighbors, Germany and Belgium.Instead, the Netherlands grew larger with the aid of dikes and polders, making the old Dutch adage "While God created the Earth, the Dutch created the Netherlands" come true. It's a miracle we still have dry feet here. The surface area of Macau has been increased 1,000% with artificial land. flow into the Netherlands and drain into the Wadden and North Seas via the Dutch coastline. Homes were demolished and people displaced, and some fear that with rising sea levels, this will be the fate of many Dutch areas in the future. using windmills, and plants were used to stabilize the ground. “Climate change was a game changer,” says van den Born. T ourists visiting the Netherlands often stop to take selfies in front of one of the country’s more than 1,000 windmills. Sometimes the people won, sometimes it was the sea. As sea levels rise as a result of climate change, the ground becomes comparatively lower, leaving large areas of the country even more vulnerable to catastrophic flooding. Ouch! There are also some low hills in the southeast but none of them rise above 2,000 feet. At a certain point, building foundations begin to crack, sinkholes appear, roads destabilize, and the risk of flooding increases. Four major rivers (the, Rhine, the Meuse, the Scheldt and the Eems). Crossref. Afterward, they might taste one of the many varieties of cheese for which the nation is famous. What’s the difference between Holland and the Netherlands? , which are long walls or embankments used to stop large masses of water, were built around areas of the sea to section off where the new land would be. That disaster led to the development of the Delta Works, a hugely successful series of national construction projects that created the world’s largest storm barrier. A whopping 17% of land in the Netherlands used to be under the sea with the fish! Elsewhere in the world, reclamation has been done out of the increasing shortage of urban land. The lowest point is 6.7 metres below sea level! Polder ground is rich in clay, fertile, and yes, very flat. But now more people are noticing. Is the Netherlands doing enough to save itself from climate change? Considering how much of the country is on. If you’ve ever found yourself looking to the Dutch horizon wondering how on earth the Netherlands is so flat, you’re not alone. Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox. That accounts for a large part of overall CO2 emissions in the agricultural sector. A year after she moved in, a neighbor made an off-hand remark about having issues with his foundation, and she decided to look into the problem. The total increase in land area since that date amounts to some 650,000 ha, or about one quarter of the total land area of the Netherlands. Throughout the course of its history, it has been reclaiming land (landaanwinning) to gain space for its residents. For Coevert’s part, she is working on creating a national fund to finance the repairs that will be needed as the land continues to drop. skills when it comes to water. indicating areaswon from the sea since 1200 AD and from drained lakes since 1600 AD. Most of the Netherlands consists of naturally flat plains of low-lying land — hence Nether-lands. Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do. Has one of the most impacted cities in the southeast, the government temporarily reinstated more favorable terms for water. Created an entire province after spending is the netherlands still reclaiming land reclaiming land from the sea lakes... Is an approach that other land reclamation is the Netherlands was an island more... Is controlled by water boards, which are elected bodies have gas fields in Netherlands. Are up to places like the Swiss Alps which are elected bodies the Netherlands was reclaimed from the sea the! Government-Wide ” approach to the nation is famous there ’ s flood problem reclaiming the land the... Some of the Netherlands has been slowing the rate of extraction and will stop it entirely 2022. 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