Sub-study Designing Research Groene Hart

Regional Design Amstelscheg

Scenario Natural Landscape - peat development due to retaining rainwater

Climate change and the increasing costs for water management require a new vision on how to deal with soil subsidence in the Groene Hart. A methodology has been developed for this in the context of a broader study for the Groene Hart as a whole.


This method has been applied in the design research of Vista and Circular Landscapes for the Amstelscheg near Amsterdam. Here, all assignments for the peat area come together on a small scale. Two spatial scenarios have been developed in consultation with regional stakeholders and experts and tested for their effects on subsidence, greenhouse gas emissions, water shortage, water surplus, biodiversity and landscape image.

The complete report (in Dutch) can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

LOCATIONAmstelschegCLIENTPARK Noord-Holland, PARK Zuid-Holland, PARK UtrechtPERIOD2019COLLABORATIONCircular Landscapes

Current situation - Peat meadows with Holstein Friesian cows

Current situation

Scenario Production Landscape - Wet crops are combined with retention basins in the polder

scenario production landscape

In this scenario, the approach to subsidence is used for an accelerated transition from dairy farming to nature-inclusive circular agriculture. The core of this scenario is the large-scale application of underwater drainage in the unearthed peat areas and the construction of retention basins in the adjoining land reclamation sites with residual peat. Subsidence and CO2 emissions are halved and the open pasture landscape is (for the time being) safeguarded. The retention basins are given a dual function for freshwater supply and for wet crops, thus strengthening the agricultural production structure. The soils along the Amstel are raised with clay, sludge and/or urban compost and transformed into a recreational zone with “urban gardens”.

Scenario Production Landscape - Recreational city gardens next to the Amstel river

scenario nature landscape

Peat recovery and maximum biodiversity are central to this scenario. We save rainwater until the ground level is wetland. Through natural hydrosere will gradually emerge living peat. Living peat is naturally part of the peat landscape, but has almost completely disappeared from the Groene Hart due to extraction and reclamation. Peat formation captures CO2 and will convert soil subsidence into soil increases. Moreover, it retains a lot of water, which means that both water shortages and large peak discharges will belong to the past. Such an integral transformation requires huge investments and will generate a lot of social resistance. On the other hand, a unique “climate park” can be developed that contributes to the business climate of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area.

Scenario Natural Landscape - Land reclamation with peat bog. Swamp forest on higher parts, open water and reed land on lower parts

Conclusions and recommendations

Both scenarios differ substantially in their contribution to reducing the subsidence and the water inlet requirement. In the Production Landscape the soil subsidence and associated emissions can be halved, in the Natural Landscape the soil will rise and greenhouse gasses will be actively captured. Both scenarios require substantial investments and have major spatial and social consequences. To arrive at a well-considered choice, a broader social cost-benefit analysis is needed. At the moment, the Production Scenario appears to have the most support and to best fit in with the meadow bird objective. But it cannot be excluded that in the long term the (phased or partial) transition to a natural landscape will nevertheless be addressed. Both scenarios therefore deserve further investigation and consideration. Part of this may be to set up practical pilots together with landowners and local area parties, preferably on the scale of polder units or related sub-areas.

The complete report (in Dutch) can be downloaded via the following link:

Report Amstelscheg