Commissioned by The Rich North Sea, researchers from Bureau Waardenburg drew up an overview of nature-enhancing measures in wind farms. They mapped out which species are suitable for nature enhancement, the properties of the seabed and the presence of nutrients. By combining these factors, they made an overview of the most promising nature-enhancing measures. They did this for all planned wind farms in the North Sea until 2023.
The nature-enhancing measures that companies in wind farms can take are divided into three categories. These categories are mandatory or optional and their impact on biodiversity varies. We describe them below:
- Mapping and protecting existing biodiversity. This is a mandatory measure that is required in each wind farm. For example, there may already be existing honeycomb worm (Sabellaria alveolata) reefs in a wind farm that are easy to protect and potentially expand. This measure is feasible on a large scale and has a moderate effect on biodiversity. In addition, mapping of the existing biodiversity is necessary to assess whether it has improved in the wind farm over time.
- Introducing and strengthening natural reefs. This is one of the optional measures. An example is the reintroduction of reef-building species such as oysters, or the placement of natural reef material such as shells or gravel. Because this measure is more costly, it can most likely be carried out on a moderate scale. The expected impact on biodiversity is large.
- Building artificial reefs. This is an optional measure that, because of its high costs, can likely be implemented on a small scale. The expected impact on biodiversity is large.
The researchers compared each of these measures with the conditions in the planned wind farms. Based on this information they formulated advice on the suitability of each measure for each wind farm. The Rich North Sea uses these estimated opportunities for the different measures to make various designs for nature enhancement projects. This enables us to work in a targeted manner on the most promising nature enhancement measures in each wind farm.