Natural solutions for flood prevention – eco-engineering – work differently from traditional delta defence structures such as dams and dikes. That requires a new approach to design and the decision-making process. Deltares has joined forces with Wageningen University on scientific research looking at this approach, with the aim of helping organisations with new projects. For example, they analysed the role of knowledge and knowledge development in decision-making about eco-engineering in the following projects:
- The Sand Motor on the Delfland Coast;
- The future of the Afsluitdijk Barrier Dam project;
- Strengthening the Markermeer dikes between Amsterdam and Hoorn.
Joint knowledge collection
The possibility of the successful implementation of eco-engineering principles is maximised if all those involved work together from the outset on knowledge development. Knowledge development for the implementation of eco-engineering merits particular attention because:
- Eco-engineering brings together a range of policy domains (nature and flood defence);
- Several disciplines (such as ecology, civil engineering and morphology) have to be combined;
- Innovation is involved.
At present, we have only limited experience with the assessment of designs for eco-engineering. In addition, the natural dynamics represent an additional challenge since they prevent accurate predictions of behaviour. Deltares research provides approaches to the organisation of knowledge development and identifies opportunities and threats.
Putting added value in the picture
Support for sustainable solutions can be established when people adopt an open attitude to sharing experience and combining knowledge. In that way, the added value of eco-engineering can become clear. That added value varies depending on the project and also on the specific requirements, for example in terms of nature development. Generally speaking, eco-engineering can supply added value by means of:
- A positive impulse for nature;
- Potential cost savings;
- The flexibility of the solution, which can be appealing when future developments such as sea-level rise are uncertain;
- The combination with other ecosystem functions such as leisure activities or CO2 storage.
Support for decision-making processes
Decision-making processes relating to eco-engineering are distinctive in that they involve several policy domains. It is important to integrate those domains as early as possible in the project. Deltares provides organisations with support for this integration process. We bring together knowledge about innovative solutions, the experience of stakeholders and an understanding of the dynamics of decision-making. We contribute technical knowledge and advice about project design, and we organise workshops in which experts and stakeholders develop knowledge together. In that way, we improve the chances of the successful implementation of natural solutions.