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Restoring the Markermeer

The ambition of Natuurmonumenten for the Marker Wadden project is to increase bird diversity in the Markermeer area. For the sake of nature, and for birdwatchers and other visitors to enjoy.

Marker Wadden

At present the Markermeer has hardly any interesting nature areas. The Marker Wadden project will greatly enhance opportunities for birdwatchers, nature lovers and other visitors. The first island will have a boat landing stage and visitor centre to allow people to visit the island. With designated conservation areas and no-boating zones we will ensure that visitors will not disrupt sensitive habitats and wildlife.


Many species of migratory birds overwinter on the Markermeer, spend their breeding or moulting season here, or use the lake as a resting place between their overwintering areas in Africa and breeding grounds in Scandinavia, northwest Russia and Siberia. 

The Markermeer is a Natura 2000 site and an important habitat for many bird species. In particular, the Markermeer serves as breeding grounds for common tern and cormorant, and as feeding and resting area for the barnacle goose, common goldeneye, little gull, great crested grebe, greylag goose, goosander, gadwall, red-crested pochard, tufted duck, common spoonbill, coot, smew, northern shoveller, widgeon, common pochard, scaup (bluebill) and black tern. Birds such as tundra swan, black-headed gull, Mediterranean gull, little grebe and common shelduck come to the Markermeer to moult, rest, and or overwinter. The Marker Wadden project will greatly increase food and habitat availability for these birds.


Although fish mass and diversity in the Markermeer have decreased strongly since the 1980s, the lake still harbours a broad range of fish species. 

Common fish species in the Markermeer include smelt, roach, rudd, perch, bream, carp, tench, pike, ruffe, three-spined stickleback and zander. Rarer species such as houting, burbot, sea trout, asp and catfish are occasionally found. For fish-eating birds, the presence of fish, particularly smelt, is essential. The Marker Wadden project should help to restore water quality and primary productivity, and hence increase fish populations. 


Natuurmonumenten owns and manages 355 nature areas, almost all of which are open to the public. The Marker Wadden will be open to visitors from the beginning, even during construction of the first island. This is because Natuurmonumenten would like everyone to see and experience how this unique nature island is going to be built. Natuurmonumenten will therefore organise excursions to the island building location. The design of the island includes facilities such as a boat landing stage, visitor centre and sandy beach.