ARKipelago: Dutch re-wilding project should offer a cue to the rest of the world on conservation

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Published: December 18, 2018 12:19:41 AM

A non-governmental organisation in The Netherlands is creating islets in a body of water in the hope of drawing wildlife to these man-made dunes.

Dutch re-wilding project should offer a cue to the rest of the world on conservation (Representational image)

What the Anthropocene has meant for the planet—climate change included—is often articulated from the perspective of what the impact of this has been, or will be, on humans. The world, therefore, would do well to turn its attention to, and possibly draw a cue from, a Dutch “re-winding” project. A non-governmental organisation in The Netherlands is creating islets in a body of water in the hope of drawing wildlife to these man-made dunes. Markermeer, one of Europe’s largest freshwater lakes, used to be teeming with fish and other aquatic life but is now not much more than a dense cloudy mass of sediment. Its biodiversity was lost when, over decades, the sediment used to a create a dyke separating the lake from its nearest waterbody washed way and settled at the bottom of the lake. That had a disastrous impact on its aquatic life.

Now, a Dutch NGO is building an archipelago of five islets from the silt in the lake, at a cost of nearly $68 million. The islets have already served as a resting place for 30,000 swallows this year. Experts have also recently counted 127 kinds of plants, most of which have sprouted from wind-borne seeds. Greylag goose, common tern, several species of waders such as the great egret and the night heron have also returned, testifying to the re-wilding project’s success. At a time when global biodiversity faces its greatest threat ever—the WWF estimates the planet lost half its wildlife in just the last 40 years—re-wilding is what nations must also accord some attention and resources to.

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