, Volume 588, Issue 1, pp 31-43

Tuning the tide: creating ecological conditions for tidal marsh development in a flood control area

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Abstract

The Schelde estuary, characterised as a turbid, polluted and eutrophic system, has nowadays reached a turning point in the restoration of its water quality. During the past century, human activities have reduced the intertidal areas, essential in the estuarine ecosystem for nutrient cycling and the self-cleaning capacity. Today, in combination with a master plan to protect the population from storm surges, an opportunity rises to restore areas with a tidal influence. One specific option of combining safety and ecology is the creation of flood control areas (FCA) under the influence of a controlled reduced tide (CRT). These specific areas will differ in many ways from fully tidal areas. However, these areas can fulfill important ecological functions with effects on aeration, nitrification, denitrification, sedimentation and primary production in the estuary. Opportunities for ecological development within a CRT have been investigated for a specific case. The ecology within a CRT showed to be very case specific, depending e.g. on the morphology of the area, the sluice design and the local water quality. Depending on the sluice design, water quality can be improved and sedimentation can be influenced. Possible measures to design a CRT with a rich habitat variation are discussed.