Science, uncertainty and changing storylines in nature restoration of seagrass fields in the Dutch Wadden Sea

  • Judith Floor (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesTalk or presentation (not at a conference)Academic


Marine areas have been heavily affected by human activities, resulting in current attempts to both conserve and restore nature. In decisions about nature restoration, ecological knowledge plays a crucial role and is closely linked to nature preferences and political views. In this study, the empirical case of seagrass (Zostera marina) restoration in the Dutch Wadden Sea (1989-2017) is analysed. The impact of storylines and uncertainty perceptions, together with socio-political context factors, on decisions concerning restoration action and research are investigated. This case illustrates the difficulties of establishing seagrass fields and the dynamic process in which meaning is attributed to nature restoration. Two basic storylines – authenticity and the ecological function of ecosystem engineers – supported the restoration efforts. Three different episodes are distinguished based on different views of research in restoration efforts. The dominant perception of uncertainty was incomplete knowledge, and this perception resulted in research projects. Furthermore, the unpredictability of the success of restoration efforts and the ambiguity regarding the feasibility of restoration also influenced decisions. The Dutch Wadden Sea was perceived in very different ways, ranging from juridical obligations to climate buffer. Two boundary concepts - ecosystem engineer and pilot project - facilitated the collaboration among the science-based experts, NGOs and governmental organizations with divergent framing and knowing of the coastal area.
Period28 Jun 2019
Event title2019 People & the Sea X: learning from the past, imagining the future
Event typeConference
Conference number10
LocationAmsterdam, NetherlandsShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • nature restoration; seagrass; Wadden Sea; storylines; knowledge uncertainties; boundary concept; action-research dilemma