Erik Janse tells us why Bolina booms are the preferred choice for Staatsbosbeheer in the Netherlands to protect the waterways of De Biesbosch National Park.
A few years ago, the National Forest Organisation in the Netherlands (Staatsbosbeheer) faced an unusual problem at De Biesbosch National Park, one of the largest national parks in the country, and one of the last extensive areas of freshwater tidal wetlands in Northwestern Europe.
Consisting of a massive network of rivers, small and large creeks, as well as several islands, De Biesbosch is an important habitat for waterfowl and a variety of other flora and fauna, especially for migrating geese.
Given its ecological importance, Staatsbosbeheer has been keen to ensure that the park remains a protected space. However, due to the area’s popularity with visitors, the authorities are faced with extensive water recreation activities, which pose a threat to wildlife, as well as to the delicate natural habitats it resides in.
As the banning of all recreational activities is not feasible due to the popularity of the park, a decision was made to deploy floating barriers to prevent boats and other pleasure craft from straying beyond designated waterways and areas.
However, the forest rangers were very unhappy with the performance of the ball-lines installed by third parties in the National Park, as they found that they could be sailed over or even lifted up and passed by underneath, thereby failing to fulfil their purpose – a point they made repeatedly in many articles in the media, where they expressed concerns over the damage this could cause.
Following years of ineffective protection, Staatsbosbeheer approached Bolina to see if they would be able to offer a better, more effective solution, recollects Erik Janse, an agent for Bolina, based out of the Netherlands.
In order to hear all the requirements, I planned a meeting, in combination with a boat sailing trip, with the Engineering Agency, the main contractor Martens & Van Oord, Staatsbosbeheer and Rijkswaterstaat, to a Bolina Traffic Control Boom (TCB-600) at a location near an island at the Tiengemeten in the south of Holland.
“At this meeting, we all got to know about each other’s requirements,” he explains, adding that one of the biggest challenges was the number of stakeholders that needed to be considered across the massive project. In addition to the aforementioned companies, there were also various contractors, engineering agencies, and as the principal, a special department of The Dutch State.
During the planning of the megaproject named ‘Noordwaard’ in De Biesbosch, [all these parties] needed to comply to all the requirements and regulations, which was a major challenge.
Following the successful meeting on the boat trip, Janse says that he had a clear idea of what was required for the project, and specifically recommended the Bolina Traffic Control Booms (TCBs) as they could not be sailed over due to their buoyancy, while they cannot be lifted as they’re too heavy. Furthermore, due to the TCBs using tubes and shackles secured with sellock-pins, the booms were vandal resistant as there were no cables to cut.
As various inlets at De Biesbosch are next to a major navigable waterway (The Nieuwe Merwede), Rijkswaterstaat also wanted the boom to be seen on the radar, which has been tested and approved. Furthermore, the fact that the TCBs can sit in ice without being damaged was a plus.
Janse adds that this was an important factor in the TCBs being chosen. The forest rangers had told him that they did not want just a visual barrier, but an effective one as well. This was because they did not have the budget to hire enough staff to be present at several locations to control access to the inlets. Therefore, having a boom that was resilient to vandalism and damage was very important to them.
The TCBs have been very successful with various models installed during the Noordwaard project and across the park over the years. In fact, the initial project has been so successful that Staatsbosbeheer has directly and indirectly (through various tenders) bought hundreds of metres of TCBs for De Biesbosch.
Usually, the TCB-600 has been deployed on navigable waterways, while the TCB-400s have been deployed in the park itself, he explains, adding that regular feedback from Staatsbosbeheer comes into him, with the client expressing how well the booms are performing.
Since the first TCBs at De Biesbosch have been installed, many more TCBs have been bought and installed. The last order was in 2020 and we expect more to come through in the years ahead. There are still old and not functioning ball-lines and other barriers that need to be replaced and Staatsbosbeheer only wants Bolina.
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