OR ELSE

Faced with rising sea levels and looming sand scarcity, our interdisciplinary project OR ELSE is committed to sustainable sand extraction. During this 5-year research programme on the North Sea floor, we explore the impact on the ecosystem while protecting our coast. Find out on our site how we are working towards a resilient future.

1. Zita Veugen - 2. Boskalis - 3. Renate Olie
Afbeelding strand Noordzee
photo-by-Boskalis-and-Renate-Olie

Due to climate change and global warming, we are facing an ever faster rising sea level. A higher sea level means that dunes, dykes and storm surge barriers are under greater strain. In time, this can lead to dune erosion and lower protection against storm surges. That is why we need more and more sand to maintain the coastal protection.

To protect our coast, we extract some 10 to 12 million cubic metres of sand every year. In the coming decades, sand extraction will grow due to sea level rise. And not only coastal protection, infrastructure also requires sand extraction. Around 13 million cubic metres of sand is extracted as construction sand for roads and residential areas, and for concrete and masonry sand. Due to the high demand for housing, this volume is also growing.

Governments, fishermen, dredgers, nature organizations and scientists see that sand reserves are dwindling worldwide, while more and more sand will be needed. With the five-year OR ELSE research project, together with an interdisciplinary team, we will gather new knowledge on the effects of sand extraction on the ecology of the North Sea. This knowledge helps us in the near future to extract sand in an ecologically responsible way.

Our partners

The OR ELSE research programme is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) as part of the National Science Agenda and receives co-funding from Rijkswaterstaat, Boskalis and Van Oord.

Terra et Aqua

OR ELSE mentioned in article Terra et Aqua

SAND AS A RESOURCE: BEST PRACTICES TO CONDUCT RESPONSIBLE DREDGING PROJECTS On 5 September 2023, IADC published a paper by […]

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Because of sea level rise, we need more and more sand from the North Sea to protect our coast, and housing construction also requires a lot of sand. OR ELSE aims to ecologically optimise sand extraction in the North Sea so that the marine ecosystem remains healthy and continues to provide us with food. Want to read more about our research? Click here.