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Building with Nature Guideline > Building Solutions > Shoreline zonation strategies > Coastal buffer zones 

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Coastal buffer zones


A coastal buffer zone, or "inlaag” in Dutch, is a predominantly salt/brackish zone along the coast between two dikes. Historically these areas arose when people built a spare inner dike parallel to the coastal defence when there was a threat of dike failure. Because of the presence of a secondary dike, the primary coastal defence can suffice with lower safety standards as for example reduced height. Limited overflow during extreme high water conditions is acceptable because the secondary dike will stop the water from inundating the land behind the secondary dike. This is interesting from a cost and dike maintenance point of view especially with respect to sea level rise. The area between the dike is not suitable for high quality land use as housing, but can serve as nature and recreation area and also has potential for aquaculture.



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How to Use

A coastal buffer zone enables zonation of flood risk. The flood risk in the buffer zone can be higher than normal standards. The advantage is that the primary dike does not have to be raised when sea level rises and will save costs. In fact, limited overflow can be permitted. When allowing water and higher groundwater levels in the area between the dikes this can also reduce land subsidence processes. To enable overflow of the crest of the dike, the landward side of the primary dike might have to be strengthened. Depending on the frequency of overflowing, the area between the dikes is subject to occasional flooding which puts limitations on land use. By choosing low-lying, coastal areas with extensive land use (nature areas), the adverse effects on land use practices are brought to a minimum.

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Practical Application

The principle of a coastal buffer zone is already being practised at several locations.

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