The Rich North Sea seizes the unique opportunity offered by offshore wind farms to enhance nature in the North Sea. As such, we are helping our earth in two ways; renewable energy to counter climate change, and nature development to enhance biodiversity in the North Sea. As a result of fishing and the spread of disease, the biodiversity of our largest nature reserve has declined and almost all natural reefs have been lost. If we wish to restore those reefs, active intervention is key.
We place artificial reefs and release oysters to help marine life flourish. In doing so, we examine what the ideal conditions are for optimal nature development. We aspire to have the knowledge gained applied to all wind parks in the North Sea.
Foundation for the future
Due to the various projects the programme entails, The Rich North Sea is gaining extensive knowledge and insight into nature enhancement in wind farms. We are pooling this knowledge in the ‘Toolbox Natuurversterking’: a digital environment providing market players the information needed for a nature-inclusive rollout of offshore wind farms that ensures renewable energy and a healthy natural environment. In the Toolbox, which serves as inspiration for projects worldwide, we combine scientific knowledge and operational experience. It will be open-source, allowing future projects to be launched easily and cost-efficiently and provides building blocks for the future. The Rich North Sea is developing the Toolbox in cooperation with the wind and hydraulic engineering sector, science and government.
The approach: nature development in wind parks
In close cooperation with the wind and hydraulic engineering sector and science, The Rich North Sea works on underwater nature enhancement. We do this by placing and fostering living reefs and artificial structures. We also test cutting-edge adaptations to foundation structures, conduct scientific research and test new innovations. This helps us to understand the success factors for promoting species such as sand and shell tubeworms, flat oysters, mussels and cuttlefish. In addition, we have set up a breeding line for flat oysters. For nature development projects involving oysters, using healthy oysters is essential. That is why The Rich North Sea is working to cultivate healthy flat oysters, which can help restore oyster reefs in the North Sea. Through unified monitoring and research projects, we connect these different projects. Through webinars and conferences, we share the knowledge gained (inter)nationally. And thus contribute to building scientific knowledge and operational expertise on nature-enhancing construction in the North Sea.