The restoration of the Scheldt's ecosystem is an important goal of the Sigma Plan. Countless unique plants and animals call the newly restored areas home. The Sigma Plan helps us to achieve the conservation objectives in the framework of Natura 2000, the European network of conservation areas.
What kinds of nature do we restore?
Wetlands are marshy areas where rare plants and animals thrive. In the winter, the groundwater there is high, and in the summer its level drops.
Wetlands are extremely diverse. The landscape can vary from open water to reed beds, which then can turn into alluvial forests. The roots of the trees there have their roots in water almost all year round, and they form excellent shelters or nesting places for numerous animal species. Fish, amphibians, and dragonflies inhabit the many ditches, brooks, and pools. Another type of wetlands are wet grasslands. Flowery hay meadows and grasslands develop where cows graze or grass is mowed. Meadow birds, in particular, feel at home in these expansive pastures.
In the areas affected by ebb and flow, a widely varied and exceptional type of nature arises - tidal nature. The rhythm of the ebb and flow, the unique transition from fresh to salt water and the interplay between water, sand and silt allow the river to sculpt a network of mudflats, shoals, marshes, channels and brooks. Each of these biotopes has its own typical inhabitants.
Mudflats are the lowest of these biotopes; they are free of vegetation and are flooded at each high tide. They are teeming with worms, crabs, and other small creatures. These animals are the favourite dishes of the geese, ducks and waders. The mudflats and shoals are the ideal spots for birds to rest and forage for food.