Natura People meeting in Breskens, 23-25 april 2013

From the 23th to 25th of april, we - the project Waterdunen in the Dutch province of Zeeland - had an interesting meeting with our Interreg partners in Natura People: the RSPB in Minsmere (UK), the Zwin in Belgium and the Grevelingen in the Netherlands.

Interreg partners
Natura People was launched at Minsmere in autumn 2010. Twice a year the project partners get together to exchange information, share ideas and develop various elements of the project. We've had meetings at the Zwin Nature Park  in Belgium (April 2011), Marquenterre in France (not a project partner but one with good  links to Minsmere, the Zwin and Waterdunen) (Nov 2011), Grevelingen in the Netherlands (April 2012) and again in Minsmere (Nov 2012).

This time it was the turn of Waterdunen to host the meeting. The meeting took place in the temporary office of the coastal defense project 'Weak Links' nearby the ferry in Breskens. From 2007 until 2015 the waterboard has been and is working here on the enforcement of dikes and dunes alongside the coast ofWestern Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. In Waterdunen the enforcement will be combined with a large-scale nature and recreation development.

The best practices of our partners in Natura People, all famous nature reserves with a keen focus on connecting people with coastal nature and bird life, will be applied and built on in the creation of an impressive new reserve in Waterdunen, with artificial wetlands, many new paths and a variety of visitor facilities. Construction work starts this summer.

Short tour


Before starting the meeting, we showed our guests the project area in a short tour on our way to the harbour in Breskens. There 'Het Zeeuwse Landschap' took us by boat to the Hooge Platen Nature Reserve in the Westerscheldt Estuary, an important breeding site for seabirds. We saw the work that has been done in enlarging the site and defending it from coastal erosion. And we saw hundreds of Sandwich Terns, Blackheaded Gulls and Mediterranean Gulls breeding there. It's not only a bird site: from the boat we had a perfect view on a group of seals, resting on the mudflats.

Main subjects to discuss on the meeting were the progress and results of the partners activities in the field of visitors management and the economic value of natureconservation and development. The RSPB's economists are working on a manual for non-economists on evaluating and communicating the economic and welfare effects of Natura 2000. The Zwin and Grevelingen organized successfully various ambassadors courses for businesses within their region. Also other experiences and ideas on visitors management and facilities were shared.

Dinner and exhibition


To disseminate the results of the Interreg co-operation among partners of Waterdunen (municipality, waterboard, recreational entrepreneur), an evening-meeting was organized in the Grote Kerk in Groede. There we also showed our guests the temporary exhibition on Waterdunen, that was set up with the help of Natura People. The exhibition, that attracts a lot of people to the church in Groede, is open from the 1st of May till October the 1st, from 11.00 till 16.30 hours.


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