Neuwapeler Außengroden

salt marsh restoration by soil removal

The Niedersächsiches Wattenmeer National Park wanted to improve the salt marshes. The balance in the coastal ecosystem is disturbed by the decrease of lower salt marshes. Due to the radical intervention of removing sediment, the salt marsh was lowered so that at high water salt water can wash over the salt marshes again and the salt marshes can develop again. The dike at the Neuwapeler Außengroden has been improved with the sediment from the salt marsh. The combination of measures fit in the Nature 2000 regulations.

Neuwapeler Außengroden

coordinates Google Maps: 53.3953536 , 8.2604866

Anna Appel, Nationalparkverwaltung Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer, showed us in the introduction the concept of the restoration and the development through the years. Also part of the project are improvements for the geese in the remaining land use at this location.

Anna Appel ©Mark Schuurman -

The planning for a part of the dike is delayed due to the new meassurements of dike improvement (50 cm on top). Also the ‘not steady soil’ makes the delay even bigger.

This is not a single project in the National Park. There are more salt marshes that are unnaturally high. That is easier for land use, but a threat to nature. And a disbalance in the coastal ecosystem. Even if the drainage system is changed, the salt marshes are too high to be flooded by saltwater. For most of those locations, removing soil is the only option to create a lower salt marsh.

With this project, they took the opportunity to reset and give nature the opportunity to develop itself. They got rid of the artificial drainage and from now on it is a very natural development. Hopefully the tidal creeks can keep it as open as nature needs on this spot. But it is limited by the dike and the influences from the foreland.

The Neuwarder Außengroden is very open to the Jadenbusen; there is just a little barrier through the extraction site and the tidal flats itself. And with more natural development in a small scale.

Neuwapeler Außengroden ©Mark Schuurman -

reflection by peter esseling

Peter Esseling ©Michiel Firet

Almost all older salt marshes are artificial and handmade. Traditionally, they are drained and used for grazing. It has fallen out of use in many locations, also because the drainage is expensive. The question is: what do we do with those 20.000 ha of artificial salt marshes? They have national values ​​and there are opportunities to redesign them and create new salt marsh landscapes. The Neuwarder Außengroden is a very inspiring example of creating a new salt marsh landscape. It is not natural, but has a much higher degree of natural mud than traditional mainland. So you have a kind of mosaic with, in my view, a maximum of total biodiversity. In the Netherlands, people are not willing yet to give up their artificial salt marshes to create new, more natural salt marshes.

Knowing more?