By P.H. Nienhuis
This booklet offers the environmental heritage of the Delta of the lowland rivers Rhine and Meuse, an ecological tale on evolving human–environmental kinfolk dealing with weather swap and sea-level upward push. It bargains a mixture of in-depth ecology and environmental historical past, facing exploitation of land and water, using every little thing nature supplied, the improvement of fisheries and agriculture, adjustments in biodiversity of upper vegetation, fish, birds, mammals and invasive exotics. it's the first finished e-book written in English at the built-in environmental background of the Delta, from prehistoric occasions as much as the current day. It covers the l- acy of human intervention, the inescapable destiny of reclaimed, however subs- ing and sinking polders, ‘bathtubs’ attacked via a number of floods, reclaimed within the heart a long time and unwittingly uncovered to the emerging sea point and the expanding amplitude among low and high water within the rivers. The river channels, constricted and controlled among embankments, misplaced their flood plains, silted up, degraded and incised. Cultivation of raised lavatory deposits ended in oxidation and compacting of peat and clay, leading to revolutionary subsidence and flooding; arable land needed to be became grassland and wetland. For millennia muscular energy and wind and water powers moulded the rustic into its easy shape. From 1800 onwards, acceleration and scaling up by way of steam energy and electrical energy, and exponential popu- tion development, ended in the erection of human constructions ‘fixed forever’, and critical strain at the environment.
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Extra info for Environmental History of the Rhine–Meuse Delta: An ecological story on evolving human–environmental relations coping with climate change and sea-level rise
2 From the Old Stone Age to the Roman Period 27 Extensive archaeological research revealed tens of settlements in the Delta of Rhine and Meuse, particularly on levees along tidal creeks or on elevated bogpeat sites. Well-preserved remnants of farms have been located, dating back to the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, sometimes rather voluminous (20 × 6 m), built around a skeleton of oak and ash beams, with living space and stables for cattle and pigs, separated by wattle-work, made of twigs and branches of ash, willow and birch.
The dam was intended to shift the distribution of a large part of the water from the river Waal to the river Nederrijn (Fig. 10) in order to create a more or less natural line of defence against Germanic attacks from the east, and to enhance the navigability of the trade route to the north (present IJssel; Fig. 10). The Rhine and IJssel basins had slowly silted up and it is likely that during extremely dry periods the rivers ran dry at shallow places. Connected to the building of the dam, it is believed that Drusus was responsible for digging one or two (or perhaps more) artificial channels (fossae Drusianae) connecting the Rhine with the river IJssel, intended to be used as waterways for the transport of troops and goods to the north.
After river activity ceased, the flood basin changed into an eutrophic mire with a vegetation development largely resembling the patterns of present-day processes of growing solid by peat formation, a succession of reed and sedge swamps, and eventually alder and willow coppice. , 1997b). 2 From the Old Stone Age to the Roman Period 25 The classic interpretation of analysed pollen diagrams shows that an almost closed natural forest was dominating the river landscape. Vera’s (1997, 2002) theory is that the prehistoric landscape in the Delta was not a closed forest, but an open parkland, with grassland, bushes, brushwood and patches of trees.