With our programme The Rich North Sea we want to seize the unique opportunity which offshore wind farms offer to enhance nature in the North Sea. We are helping our planet in two ways: renewable energy generation to stop climate change, and nature development for more biodiversity in the North Sea. The biodiversity of our largest nature reserve has been reduced by overfishing and diseases, leading to the disappearance of almost all natural reefs. If we want to bring back these reefs, active intervention is needed.
We are installing artificial reefs and releasing oysters to help marine life thrive. In so doing we are investigating the ideal conditions for optimal nature development. The goal is to then apply the acquired knowledge in all wind farms in the North Sea.
Building blocks for the future
Natuur & Milieu and The North Sea Foundation (Stichting De Noordzee), the initiators of The Rich North Sea, want to establish nature development as a permanent component in the construction of wind farms. We are working on a blueprint in the shape of a ‘toolbox’ for nature development in all offshore wind farms. The acquired knowledge will be open source so future projects can be started easily and cost-efficiently. This can inspire the entire wind sector and increase the public's enthusiasm for the wonderful opportunities of offshore wind as well.
The approach: nature development in wind farms
In close collaboration with the wind sector, hydraulic engineering sector, and science we are building artificial reefs for oysters, tube worms, and Northern horse mussels at various locations in Dutch offshore wind farms. These are species that are capable of creating self-sustaining reefs. By forming a sheltered nursery at the bottom of the North Sea, we lay the foundation for an ecosystem that can flourish again. Reefs are both a shelter and a source of food for marine life. The reef structures, which are designed and tested in a lab, consist of hard materials to which various species can attach themselves.
Securing and expanding
With this project we enthuse the wind sector and hydraulic engineering sector for nature development in wind farms. Parties that want to get to work with it can use the ‘toolbox’ we created in which we bundled our knowledge and experience. In collaboration with other organisations, we have set up our own oyster breeding line ‘Kweek en Onderzoek Platte Oesters in Nederland’ (KOPON), with which we learn how best to farm flat oysters. We also lobby MPs and civil servants to ensure the implementation of policies that support nature development in wind farms at sea. We actively involve these MPs, civil servants and policymakers in our projects. By making the positive results of A Rich North Sea publicly available, the combination of nature development and wind farms will receive public support and help create positive opinions on the building of new wind farms at sea.