Beaver paradise with lower water levels

Beaver paradise with lower water levels

Flood plain excavation Scheller Oldeneler Buitenwaarden

Flood plain excavation Scheller Oldeneler Buitenwaarden

Flood plain excavation Scheller Oldeneler Buitenwaarden

Flood plain excavation Scheller Oldeneler Buitenwaarden

The essence

A river painter as inspiration

The Hattum landscape painter Voerman is known for his many paintings of the IJssel: romantic, grand panoramas of the river landscape, with cloudy skies and cows that are half-immersed in water. To us, a perfect source of inspiration. The project ‘Ruimte voor de Rivier Zwolle’ (Room for the River Zwolle) consists of dike replacement near Westenholte and the excavation of gullies in the river foreshores of the Scheller and Oldeneler Buitenwaarden. In cooperation with ecologists, architects and river experts, BoschSlabbers made a landscape plan. Special attention was given to the shaping of the river gullies, the construction of a beaver woodland and various recreational ‘strolls’.

Especially in the southern parts of the project area, landscaping was inspired by the paintings of Jan Voerman. Meadows are grazed by local livestock. The new gully was given a steep bank on its outer curves and gentle slopes on the inner curves, allowing easy access to the water for cattle. To the north, the terrain will be less intensely mown and grazed, and managed as a more natural hayfield. This way, it will provide potential habitat for the corncrake. Planting around the sand extraction pool will disappear, creating beautiful views of the Hattem silhouette. The area around the railway bridge will match the existing landscaping around the pond of the Engelse Werk: rough meadows, wet and dry roughs and muddy banks. The high grounds surrounding the southern reaches of the gullies are expanded. On this higher ridge, unique stream valley flora and hardwood riparian woodlands can develop.

the solution

The gully as river branch

The new gully is shaped as a secondary river branch: clearly narrower than the main river, and gently snaking its way through the foreshores. Connecting the existing sand extraction pool with this new river branch will stimulate further branching. As secondary branch, it ‘catches’ water coming from the direction of Hoenwaard. Behind its weir, sand will be deposited, providing space for dynamic ecological processes.

To enhance the position of the new Hanzespoorbrug (railway bridge), the choice was made to add a second gully underneath it, as one large gully would be too much competition for the main river. By also reshaping the pool of the Engelse Werk, cohesion is created on both sides of the bridge.

“The size and dimensions of the gullies is attuned to the small-scale character of the IJssel valley, and their length contributes to the overall cohesion of the area.”

– columnist René Siemens. In: Ruimte voor de Rivier; veilig en mooi landschap (Blauwdruk, 2017)

Remarkable detail

New beaver woodland

Just before construction, a number of beaver lodges were discovered, precisely where the main gully was projected. Time to help this protected species move house! In two phases, and with the aid of the Dutch Mammal Society, the local beaver workgroup and students of the AOC (agricultural education centre), a new habitat for the beavers was created.

The new habitat consists of open water and several species of willow. For the new beaver woodlands, willows were cut and replanted from the foreshores of the Engelse Werk, where trees had to go to make room for the river. Using full-grown trees will quickly turn the new woodlands into suitable habitat.

project data

Title: Flood plain excavation Scheller Oldeneler Buitenwaarden

Location: Scheller- & Oldeneler Buitenwaarden, Zwolle, NL

Size: 150ha/2,9km/8cm water level reduction

Client: Waterschap Drents Overijsselse Delta (WDOD)

Cooperation: Tauw, Witteveen+Bos

Contractor: Combinatie Ploegam-van den Biggelaar

Duration: 2008-2016

Type: Plan study, design plan, implementation supervision

Publication/Prize: Ruimte voor de Rivier: Veilig en mooi landschap (D. Sijmons, Blauwdruk, 2017)

Image credits: BoschSlabbers, Jeroen Bosch, YourCaptain luchtfotografie, WDOD, Rijkswaterstaat Beeldbank/Ruben Smit

Project code: A092