1997-2002, Waddenzee, The Netherlands

WadBOS is an information system offering support to policy makers actively involved in the Dutch Waddenzee. It has been developed within the framework of the Land Water Information technology program, by commission of the National Institute for Coastal Zone and Marine Management RIKZ) and directorates Noord-Holland and Noord-Nederland of the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management.

The Wadden Sea is part of a coastal system extending from the North of the Netherlands into Northern Germany and Western Denmark. In the Netherlands, the sea is a protected nature reserve because of the important ecological functions that it fulfils. At the same time, the sea has important economic functions. Fishing, recreation, transportation, and mining are among the main economic activities. It generates employment, income, leisure, and food for many a household. The management of the different activities and functions of the sea is distributed over a great number of institutions, ranging from the municipal to the European. When decisions are to be made or policies need to be developed relative to the exploitation or protection of the area, incompatible views tend to slow down the decision-making process.

The development of WadBOS started in 1996 when CUBWAD, the association of government organisations responsible for the management of the Wadden Sea, concluded that policy-making could be enhanced if the abundant existing knowledge about the Wadden Sea, which is generally spread among the many policy making, management, and research bodies active in the region, would be gathered, ordered, linked and made available in an operational form to those responsible for policy-making. It was expected that an information system representing the Wadden Sea in an holistic manner, integrating ecological functions and human activities at the appropriate temporal and spatial scales would be a very useful instrument for this purpose. Such system was expected to enable the exploration of the autonomous dynamics of the Wadden system as well as the analysis of effects of policy measures thereon.

Since 2001, WadBOS exists in its second version. It is a Decision Support System featuring an integrated model representing the ecological and the economic functions of the sea. The constituting sub-models represent processes operating at different time scales, ranging from daily to yearly. They also represent spatial processes operating at three different spatial scales: the whole sea, 12 relatively homogeneous compartments within the sea, and small cellular units of 25 ha each. The WadBOS system relies heavily on GIS information for its inputs, but its models need economic, demographic and ecological data from other sources equally well. WadBOS has been developed to be useful for and usable by the decision makers in the region working in isolation or in a group setting. A lot of effort has gone into its user-friendly character, its interactive capabilities, the (geo)graphical representation of its dynamic output, and its transparency. The system has been instrumental in analytical exercises, but its communication and learning capabilities have proven to be at the least as important.

Check our publications page for a number of scientific publications about WadBOS.