Conference Dunes & Estuaries 2015

Conference Dunes & Estuaries 2015





Welcome / introduction

The conference 'Dunes & Estuaries 2015. Restoration of Tidal & Estuary Areas' is being organised in the context of ZTAR, a European co-funded LIFE-project in the Zwin-area on the Belgian coast. This is an abbreviation for ‘Zwin Tidal Area Restoration’ and is a cross-border LIFE nature project. This European project aims at restoring the Zwin plain and is being implemented by the Nature and Forest Agency of the Flemish Government, in collaboration with the Dutch Province of Zeeland. The project officially started on 1 January 2011 and will be finalized by 31 December 2015.

Actions of ZTAR include:

  • Restoration of the breeding islands for birds by reconstructing these islands and by restoring the surrounding salty lagoon.
  • Important cutting of sods (removing top 20 cm of soil) to rejuvenate the salt marsh.
  • Building of large grassland blocks: in the future, cows and sheep will manage the Zwin by grazing
  • Deepening and widening the main gully of the Zwin

The aim of this international conference is to exchange experiences and information on innovative management methods. In addition, the Nature and Forestry Agency hopes to promote and to enhance networking between different management professionals in the field and other actors.

This international conference aims at bringing together policy makers and managers of similar natural areas from European countries and beyond.

The conference will take place from Wednesday 16 to Friday 18 September 2015 in Bruges, Belgium. The official language of the conference is English.

Important dates and deadlines

  • 12 February 2015: Start abstract submission
  • 1 April  2015: Start on-line registration
  • 30 April 2015: Deadline abstract submission
  • 1 June 2015: Notification of the authors – Preliminary Conference programme ready
  • 15 July: Deadline early bird registration
  • 10 September 2015: Deadline pre-registrations
  • 16-18 September 2015: Dunes & Estuaries 2015 Conference

Conference Organiser

The conference is an initiative of the Nature and Forest Agency of the Flemish Government (Agentschap voor Natuur en Bos), Department West Flanders

Contact person: Stijn Loose – 0032 50 44 77 88 –

Host city & venue

The Dunes & Estuaries 2015 Conference will be organised in the beautiful historic city of Bruges in Belgium.

The venue is the centrally located Crowne Plaza Hotel (Burg 10, 8000 Brugge –

It is worthwhile noting the historic link of the city with the central theme of the conference: the ‘Zwin’ was originally an inlet which connected Bruges to the North Sea.


Following topics will be discussed during the conference:

  • Ecosystem services of estuary and coastal areas: Estuary and coastal areas deliver certain ecosystem services: they function as seawall and nursery for fish and crustaceans, they capture carbon (reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere). How can we maximally preserve and boost these services?
  • EU-Life-projects with respect to estuary and coastal areas: In several coastal areas and estuaries that are part of the NATURA 2000 network, LIFE projects are being developed or have been carried out. The conference will also offer a forum for LIFE project staff to exchange their views and experiences.
  • Climate change
    - Strategic Retreat (abandoning lower coastal areas) is one of the possible answers to the problems of a rising sea level and an increasing storm frequency. How do different European countries deal with this issue and what are the consequences?
    - Coastal squeeze causes several types of habitats to accommodate to a constantly shrinking zone between the rising sea and the strong seawall along the coasts of Europe. How can we offer new opportunities to those types of habitats?
  • Depoldering of coastal areas: From the Middle Ages to the beginning of last century, acres and acres of estuarine wetlands have been reclaimed from the sea. That is how the polders in the Low Countries and in Great Britain came into being. Nowadays and for various reasons several of these polders are partly being given back to the sea or to the river. We will explore a number of projects and explain the reasons why.
  • Ecological development and management of estuarine areas
    - Lots of estuarine zones have been largely influenced by human interventions: dike building for polder construction, dredging navigable channels …. Restoring a natural environment requires enormous efforts. Which methods should be put into action first and which are the biggest opportunities as far as restoration of nature is concerned?
    - Estuarine environments are constantly changing. Which are the best ways to manage such kinds of environments? 
    - More and more invasive exotic species turn up in estuarine environments too. They constitute a threat to endemic species and protected habitats. How should environmental management deal with that?

    Download the programme in more detail (pdf - 200 KB)
    Keynote speakers
     having confirmed their presence so far include: 

    Prof. Dr. Patrick Meire (Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium)
    Prof. Patrick Meire studied biology at the University of Ghent. He started his PhD work at the Laboratory of Animal Ecology, Nature Conservation and Biogeography of the University of Gent first with a research grant from the Belgium National Fund for Scientific Research, later as a research assistant. In 1990 he became senior researcher at the Institute of Nature Conservation, a research Institute of the Flemish Government. Since 1995 he holds the chair of Integrated Water Management at the Institute of Environmental Studies of the University of Antwerp (part time visiting professor) and since 1999 he is full time professor at the University of Antwerp, Department of Biology and head of the ecosystem research group. He is also visiting professor at the Warchau University of Life Sciences. He was awarded the Price Rudy Verheyen in 2010.

    His research career focused on the study of environmental impact on aquatic systems and possibilities for restoration. Starting with a study of the impact of the construction of a storm surge barrier in the Oosterschelde on waterbirds and macrozoobenthos, his work extended towards more integrated ecosystem studies. The processes in the land-water interaction along the whole river continuum from source to sea are studied at different scales: from individual organisms, over populations and communities, towards ecosystems and landscapes. These studies, which involve both descriptive and experimental field work, are integrated to make predictions on the impact of different management options on the functioning and biodiversity of the system. The fundamental knowledge is translated into concepts and visions for management and restoration.

    He has  more than 150 publications in peer-reviewed journals, edited 3 books and (co-)authored more than 300 scientific reports, papers in national journals etc.

    Roger Morris (Bright Angel Coastal Consultants, United Kingdom)
    Roger Morris is an ecologist and coastal management specialist with over 25 years’ experience. His career includes a long term of employment with the former 'Nature Conservancy Council' and its successors (English Nature and Natural England). Relevant experience includes several major port development projects, flood risk management strategies, tidal energy projects, physical processes (analogue-based modelling) and integrated coastal zone management. He was, inter-alia, English Nature's 'Head of Estuaries Conservation' from 1998 to 2006 where he was responsible for ports policy development and for managing the residual parts of English Nature's Estuaries Initiative. He also represented Defra on the European Commission's Rivers Expert Group andEstuaries Expert Group. Roger left Natural England in 2009 to become an independent consultant, and joined the Board of Harwich Haven Authority in 2010 as the non-executive Director responsible for environment. In the past five years he has undertaken a variety of projects for UK Government Departments and Agencies. In addition he has had international expert assignments in The Netherlands and Germany, including advice on remediation of the Eastern Schelde Estuary and the Ems Estuary, and evaluation of Habitats Directive compliance of proposed remediation within the Elbe Estuary.

    Chris Bakker (It Fryske Gea, The Netherlands)
    Chris Bakker studied Biology at Groningen University. He took a specialization in Ecological research, with Master projects at Spitsbergen and Kansas State University. A second specialization in Environmental Policy resulted in a Master project at the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Fisheries.

    At the Free University of Amsterdam, Chris received a PhD  for his research on ecological restoration of coastal dune vegetation. At the regional trust “Utrechts Landschap”, Chris developed several integrated projects, combining nature conservation interests with other societal and economic interests.

    Chris currently works at the regional trust It Fryske Gea as the Head of the Nature Quality section. His responsibilities are to oversee the ecological monitoring and ecological advice as well as public affairs. He represents It Fryske Gea in several projects along the coastal zone. Examples are the re-creation of two freshwater - salt water gradients, enabling fish to migrate inland, while restoring a brackish habitat. Another example is a programme to identify common interests for flood safety, recreational interests, food production and nature protection along the Wadden Sea coast.

    Magali Boyce (Pôle-relais Lagunes méditerranéennes, France)
    Magali Boyce is an engineer in agronomy. She started her work experience in South of France working at the integration of the farmers in their environment. Then she had an abroad experience as a food-security officer for NGOs such as Action Contre la Faim and Doctors without Borders in Afghanistan, and Laos mainly. She came back to France and integrated the national net of the "Conservatoires  d'espaces naturels". 

    Since 2010 she as joined the team of the Conservatoire d'espaces naturels of the Languedoc-Roussillon in the mediterranean coast of France, coordinating a Life+ Project on lagoons during 4 years. She is now the project manager of the Pole-relais lagunes méditerranéennes making links between the different lagoon managers of the region.

    Yvonne Battiau (EUCC, France)
    Em. Prof. Yvonne Battiau-Queney is a geomorphologist with over 25 years of experience in coastal environment (field research and expertise). Before retiring in 2006, she was teaching at the University of Lille. She is still belonging to an important CNRS research team (Laboratory of Oceanology and Geosciences) but her main activities are currently related to EUCC-France, a French NGO linked with the Coastal & Marine Union (EUCC). 

    She is the president of EUCC-France since 2009. Yvonne Battiau-Queney is the author of around one hundred scientific papers, reports and book-chapters, a lot of them concern coastal environment (dunes, cliffs, shoreline mobility...). She is a member of the scientific council of several National Nature Reserve of the North of France and belongs to a working group of the French Ministry of ecology preparing the national strategy of management of coastal areas.

    Social programme

    On Thursday 17 September, after the fieldtrip to the nature reserve in The Netherlands, all participants and speakers are invited to attend a barbecue dinner on the beach in Ostend. More details will be available later. Transport to the venue and back to Bruges will be provided.

    Abstracts submission

    Abstract submission is closed now


    Pre-registrations are closed now. As of now only on-site registration in Bruges is possible.


    We have secured a block of hotel rooms in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Bruges at the following rates :

    Single room: 130,00 €*

    Double room: 153,00 €*

    *Incl. breakfast, wireless internet access and taxes

    Book your room in the Crowne Plaza Hotel via this link >

    In addition to this hotel, we would like to refer to the following booking page where a number of other hotels also offer rooms for the participants of this conference. It is the participant’s responsibility to book and guarantee his room individually. Payment for the room will have to be settled upon check-out. Carefully check the cancellation policy of each hotel when booking. 


    For further information, please contact the organising secretariat:  
    Grensstraat 8
    B-3110 Leuven 
    Contact person: Anne De Smet