A healthy North Sea, source of renewable energy, rich in nature and bursting with life. That's our dream. The insight underlying our dream is as simple as it is effective: bottom trawling is not permitted in offshore wind farms, allowing them to serve as nurseries of underwater wildlife.
In the implementation, we take advantage of the unique conditions that wind farms offer underwater wildlife. By installing artificial reefs and releasing oysters within these farms, we boost ecological development. Reefs provide shelter for a lot of marine life and a source of food for other marine animals.
A powerful collaboration between the wind sector and nature organizations. Innovation on the seabed in wind farms with the ultimate goal of a healthy and rich North Sea.
Renewable energy and nature development In the coming years, many wind farms will be erected in the North Sea. A transition to renewable energy sources is urgently called for in order to combat further climate change. By 2030, these wind parks will cover 75% of our current electricity consumption.
The increase of wind farms in the North Sea offers huge potential for nature development. The expansion is moving fast: where wind parks currently cover 0.2% of the total area of the North Sea, by 2030 this will be 4.5%.
Nature development on the North Sea seabed To most people, the North Sea is known as a dark sea with a sandy bottom. But this has not always been the case: at one time, the bottom of our North Sea was covered with natural reefs, where fish, shellfish and other organisms thrived. As a result of human intervention, the biodiversity of our largest nature reserve has declined and almost all natural reefs have disappeared. Nature could use a little encouragement.
Breeding ground of marine wildlife Since bottom trawling is prohibited within wind parks, they can serve as excellent nurseries for underwater wildlife. These nurseries do not arise spontaneously, however; they require our help. This will give marine wildlife a chance to develop without any interferences. We are mindful of existing nature, want to maximise wildlife development and make efforts to limit the adverse impacts associated with windmills.
Wind energy growth: risks and opportunities Building offshore wind farms presents opportunities and risks for the natural environment. Risks include those to birds and bats. Construction work causes temporary disturbance to marine mammals. The opportunities arise mainly below the surface. Within wind farms, bottom trawling is prohibited. This offers nature a chance to develop. Adding solid materials (such as stone revetments) around wind turbines attracts biodiversity.
Partners The Rich North Sea does not work alone to achieve its goals. The programme collaborates with covenant partners. Together with Natuur & Milieu and Stichting De Noordzee, these partners signed a covenant committing themselves to the programme's goals and actively working to achieve one or more objectives. They do this is by undertaking nature enhancement projects in the wind parks, developing methods for future offshore projects or by conducting research on the effects of the programme on nature.
Scientific Council To ensure the scientific basis of The Rich North Sea, the programme is supported by a scientific council. This council consists of individuals with experience and background knowledge of North Sea wildlife, offshore wind farms, and building with and for nature.
The Rich North Sea was established by Natuur & Milieu and Stichting De Noordzee. The programme was made possible by a contribution of 8.5 million euros from the Nationale Postcode Loterij Droomfonds.