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How the Dutch build their own desert islands

In Holland, there’s a tradition in building our own land. We reclaim it from sea, lake or swamp. Now we are creating 5 desert islands, to give flora and fauna a new chance. 

The Marker Wadden, those new islands are called.

In 2018 once a week a boat will bring human visitors to the island for a day on the beach or a bird watch excursion. I had the chance to visit the islands already.

Marker Wadden

The Marker Wadden are made by the workers from Boskalis. This company owns a sand dredger that has been working on the Suez Channel as well. It wades up sand from 400 meters deep.

Why do they do this? Because of natural preservation reasons.

The water here was getting less vivid due to the sludge that had been coming up the last years by building a second dike in 1976. The water became too dim and less attractive for fish and birds, water plants and shellfish.

The sludge is now used to make the islands.

The initiative to start this major project comes from one of our national nature trust funds, Natuurmonumenten. Funds have become from the Dutch government, a national lottery and the Province of Flevoland.


The Dutch are used to convert water and swamps into land. That’s why they build the famous windmills: to get the water out of the way through channels and use the recliamed land for building and agriculture.

In 1927 the dike (Afsluitdijk) made a large sea (Zuiderzee) into a lake (IJsselmeer).

In that lake three large pieces of extra land were planned. Only two have been realised: Flevoland and Noordoostpolder.

The third part, the Markerwaard, has never been constructed. But now, those new islands are situated in that spot. The new land covers around 1500 soccer fields. First there will be made five islands, there might even be more of them in the future.

The islands are 9 kilometers from Lelystad.


Thousands of terns already have found the land already.

There will be large fields of reed, and marshes. Walking paths will lead to several bird watch cabins.

I found some beautiful shells and stones, dug up by the sand dredger from the very deep parts of the lake.


There is a harbour already and it will be possible to sail over here as well.


Information on the islands Marker Wadden

Read more about the remarkable Marker Wadden on the website of Natuurmonumenten.