Governance for sustainable restoration - Veluwe Randmeren, NL
Location: The lakes Drontermeer, Veluwemeer, Wolderwijd and Nuldernauw between the Nijkerkersluis and the Roggebotsluis close to the city of Kampen
Date: 1996- 2012
Involved Parties: 19 governmental parties and 21 societal organisations
Technology Readiness Level: 6 (Governance lessons from the field)
Environment: Lakes and Rivers
Keywords: Integrated approach, water quality, stakeholder involvement, communication, planning, project organization
The Veluwerandmeren were formed after the creation of the eastern part of the province of Flevoland. It is a diverse but fragile area with a variety of functions. The project Veluwerandmeren is initiated in 1996 to integrate different legislation and plans for the area and is a cooperation between 19 governmental agencies.
The goal of the project is to maintain and strengthen the balance between recreation, nature and economics. The governance aspects of this project are analysed in order to define lessons learned for the Building with Nature pilots.
The Veluwerandmeren include the lakes Drontermeer, Veluwemeer, Wolderwijd and Nuldernauw. They form a diverse but fragile area with a variety of functions. Since 1996 governmental parties and societal organisations work together on an integrated plan for the Veluwerandmeren. The Veluwerandmeren are a wetland of international importance with a high diversity in waterfowl and aquatic plants. Other functions are shipping, swimming, sport-and professional fishing, drinking water provision and reed cultivation.
Together with stakeholder groups and inhabitants they (re)designed the area between the Nijkerkersluis and the Roggebotsluis close to the city of Kampen. The ultimate goal is to implement a package of integrated measures for the Veluwerandmeren to improve the spatial quality and to restore the balance between nature and recreation.
The first Veluwerandmeren (literally: lakes bordering the Veluwe) were formed by the creation of the east part of the Flevopolder, which fell dry in 1957 (see adjacent map). The water quality of the lakes was good, but discharge of untreated sewage water and the supply of fertilizers from agriculture in the 1960’s stimulated algae growth. A platform consisting of representatives of the Directorate-General Rijkswaterstaat of the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management and the water boards was established with the aim to control the algae. Sewage systems were remediated, the supply of fertilizers was reduced and large amounts of demersal fish were caught. The strategy worked; the water became clear again, waterfowl returned and the Veluwerandmeren became an important recreational area.
As a result of the improved water quality, individual government agencies and stakeholder groups started to develop ideas and plans for the area, but without much cohesion. This created the need for an integrated plan for the Veluwerandmeren.
For a larger map of the pilot location, see here.
Planning and Design Phase
The administrative decision for the project VeluweRandmeren was taken in 2001. The project includes 36 measures to be implemented between 2002 and 2012. The overall objective of the measures is to conserve and strengthen the balance between recreation, nature and economy in the area, where a good water quality is the key.
During the planning and design phase the governance aspects were seriously considered, as a nature based design solution using sand extraction for land development was not a common approach is the region.
Governance - Stakeholder involvement
19 governmental institutions and 21 societal organisations are working together on the project since 1996. In the planning phase (1996- 2001), these organisations formed the so-called ‘initiative-group’.
The facilitation of the process and the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders is perceived as one of the strong points of the project. Hundreds of citizens, entrepreneurs, stakeholder organizations and decision makers shared their opinion which resulted in a strong focus on the future of the Veluwerandmeren.
Yet, stakeholder involvement in the planning phase of the project turned out to be too wide-ranging. Interactive sessions with decision makers, citizens, stakeholder groups, enterprises, area managers and policy makers led to 1600 ideas which did not all fit within the scope of the project. This made the process difficult to steer.
Governance - Legislation
The following legislation played or still plays a role in the area:
- Natura2000, EU Bird-and Habitat Directive, Nature Conservation Act 1998
- Flora and fauna act
- EU Water Framework Directive, Water Management in the 21st century
- Environmental impact assessments
- Water act
- New Act on Spatial Planning
Execution of the project started in 2002, but changes in sand extraction and nature conservation policies in combination with land acquisition on a voluntary basis led to delays. In 2010, 2/3 of the 36 measures had been executed while the rest was in the preparation or execution phase. A number of measures planned can no longer be implemented before 2012, because of certain procedures and delays in land acquisition. Extra arrangements to deal with this are currently being made.
The cohesion between the various sub-projects is enhanced by their mutual dependence in financing and realisation. A downside of this strong interdependence is that failure or delay of one project can negatively affect progress of other projects.
Governance - Stakeholders involvement
In the construction phase the former initiative-group merged into three new groups responsible for the implementation of the project:
- The Steering Committee, supervising the execution of the project. Members of the committee are representatives of the national, provincial, municipal governments and the water boards.
- The Project Team, hosted by Rijkswaterstaat, is the coordinating body of the project. The team coordinates the implementation of the various measures, is responsible for the finances, represents the steering committee and is responsible for the project communication.
- The Advisory Board consists of 21 societal organisations. Its main task is to advise the project team about the balance between nature and recreation, the progress of the measures and the relation with other developments in the area.
Within the project there was relatively much interaction between local and national government officials. Decisions taken were carefully documented, translated into plans on provincial and municipal levels and ultimately laid down in a covenant. Government officials further had an active role in the preparation of the decision making process of the steering group.
A number of critical success factors in relation to stakeholder involvement emerged from the project:
- Clearly defined rules of the game right from the start. Every person interested in the project was welcome to participate during the planning phase, but it was clear that the governments responsible would take the decisions. In this way new forms of direct democracy were combined with existing forms of representative democracy and the two reinforced each other.
- Personal commitment of some individuals of Rijkswaterstaat and other parts of the Ministry. They picked up important signals from society, took them seriously and worked hard to communicate and solve these issues.
- Diversity of expertise within the project team. This made it possible for the team to provide the necessary content, manage the process, hold consultations and take responsibility for the communication. The variety of expertise also made it possible to quickly respond to unexpected situations.
- Involvement of specialists of diverse backgrounds. This created a lot of enthusiasm and quick implementation of project ideas in practice.
Operation and Maintenance Phase
Every year, the project team organized consultancy sessions with (newly elected) governors to inform them about new developments within the project and to be informed on their opinions. These sessions functioned as agenda preparation for the Steering Committee.
Governance - Maintaining information
The project team aims to maintain strong links between stakeholders, also in the phase of operation and maintenance. Trust is a keyword here. An example of strong cooperation is the proposal of the water recreation sector to establish one organisation for operation and maintenance of the Veluwerandmeren area. The steering committee reacted positively and has the intention to establish such an organisation. One of the conditions is obviously a financial contribution of all parties involved, including the water recreation sector.
Concerning the communication, the project team distributes a biannual newsletter with 2000 subscribers. Also the public information evenings are well-attended. The Information Centre Veluwerandmeren plays a positive role in informing the public and creating support for the project. The number of visitors is growing and more activities are organized, for example the establishment of a bicycle trail about the history of the Veluwerandmeren in 2009.
The following lessons have been learned from the project VeluweRandmeren:
- A common problem or opportunity stimulates cooperation between stakeholders.
- A covenant in which the rules of the game (including funding responsibilities) are made explicit favours an effective cooperation between stakeholders.
- Communication and interaction with the local parties and public in the area is important for developing and retaining their support for the project.
- At the start of the project, be clear about focus and scope: what can be done, what not?
- Agree already in the planning phase on how after implementation the pilots will be monitored, managed and maintained and by whom.
- To favor project implementation, involve politicians and administrators in the project organization.
- A relatively small project team with a wide range of expertise and a mandate to take its own decisions can respond quickly and adequately to unexpected developments.
- As the realization of projects strongly depends on the ability of parties to agree upon finances, a practical financial instrument is recommendable.
These lessons have been taken into account in the design for the Sand Engines IJsselmeer.
- BOVAR-IIVR (2001). Inrichtinsgplan Veluwerandmeren: schakel tussen strategie en uitvoering. Lelystad: Projectbureau Veluwerandmeren (in Dutch).
- Groot, A., Lenselink, G., Vlieger, B. de & Janssen, S. (2010). Morfologische, ecologische en governance principes voor ecodynamisch ontwerpen: Toegespitst op de 'Bouwen met Natuur' pilots Friese IJsselmeerkust (in Dutch).
- Hayer, M., M. van Hemert, J. Grin & J. van Tatenhove (2002). 2002: De Veluwerandmeren tussen maatschappelijke wensen, deskundige oordelen en bestuurlijke werkelijkheden; de beleving van IIVR onderzocht en beschouwd. Den Haag: Rijkswaterstaat, RDIJ-rapport 2006-16, ISBN 9036913101 (in Dutch).
- Platteeuw, M. R. Noordhuis & J. van der Perk (2006). Inschatting ecologische ontwikkelingen Veluwerandmeren, 2005. Een actualisatie van ecologische effecten van het Integrale Inrichtingsplan voor de Veluwerandmeren incl. de overige ontwikkelingen. Rijkswaterstaat, Rijksinstituut voor Integraal Zoetwaterbeheer en Afvalwaterbehandeling (in Dutch).
- IIVR Nieuwsbrief 25. zomer 2010 (in Dutch).
- Twynstra Gudde (2003). Best practices ontwikkelingsplanologie. Studie in opdracht van Ministerie van Volkshuisvesting, Ruimtelijke Ordening en Milieubeheer(in Dutch).
- Van der Beek, E. & J. van der Perk (2009). Integrale Inrichting Veluwerandmeren 2009: Verantwoording en vooruitblik. Evaluatie Integrale Inrichting Veluwerandmeren Uitvoeringsfase 2005 t/m (herijking 2009). Lelystad: Projectbureau Veluwerandmeren (in Dutch).
- Van Rooy, P. A van Luin & E. Dil. Nederland Boven Water: Praktijkboek gebiedsontwikkeling (2006). Habiforum: Gouda (in Dutch).
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