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Land reclamation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Reclaiming in Perth, Australia 1964
Reclaiming in Perth, Australia 1964

Land reclamation, usually known as reclamation, and also known as land fill (not to be confused with a landfill), is the process of creating new land from oceans, riverbeds, or lake beds. The land reclaimed is known as reclamation ground or land fill.

In a number of other jurisdictions, including parts of the United States,[1] the term "reclamation" can refer to returning disturbed lands to an improved state. In Alberta, Canada, for example, reclamation is defined by the provincial government as "The process of reconverting disturbed land to its former or other productive uses."[2] In Oceania it is frequently referred to as land rehabilitation.

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  • ✪ How The Dutch Dug Up Their Country From The Sea
  • ✪ Polder Development at Pulau Tekong
  • ✪ Land Reclamation
  • ✪ Land Reclamation in Bombay | Work, life and leisure| Civics |CBSE Class 10 Social Sciences
  • ✪ Class10 | NCERT | Land Reclamation in Bombay | 10th Std | History | CBSE | Home Revise


The Dutch have a saying: “God created the world, but the Dutch created the Netherlands”. Today we will see why. The Dutch polders are the largest land reclamation projects in the world, a true marvel of engineering which added nearly 20% of land to the country, and its fertile land makes the Netherlands the second largest exporter of food in the world. In the last episode we looked at how a large dike was constructed to block seawater from flooding the inner regions of the netherlands. In this episode we’re going to look at how parts of this inland water area was drained and turned into fertile land. While this is part of a series, you don’t need to have watched the first episode to understand this one. I try to make my videos as stand-alone as I can. Ever since the 16th century, large areas of land have been reclaimed from the sea and lakes, amounting to over 50% of the country’s current land area if you include every lake ever laid dry. The process of land reclamation in the Netherlands is mainly done through Poldering. It is the process of draining water from a lake or by placing dikes around an area of water and THEN draining it until you are left with very fertile land. And this is what Lely proposed: build a dike to stop the sea water, then build smaller dikes inside this newly formed lake, and one-by-one drain the water. This land was rich in clay, could be settled, and could be farmed, which in turn meant that the Dutch government could tax them, and make A LOT of money. To test poldering the Southern Sea itself, they decided to first make a small test polder, only 400 square meters. It took about a year and it tested the effects drainage would have on the soil of the Southern Sea and how best to configure the new polders. They first built an 18 km dike around the area and then proceeded to pump it dry. This was performed by a using a variation on the Archimedes’ screw in a pumping station or a mill. To make the land suitable for agriculture, a network of ditches were dug in the polder to channel water towards the pumping stations. The resulting dehydration caused the seabed to sink by over a meter in some places. Once the ground was settled, the ditches were replaced with underground drainage tubes. And while the polder was now dry, it couldn’t be settled yet: the ground was still far too unstable. So they then cultivated the land by throwing reed seeds out of airplanes. This sturdy plant helped evaporate the water and bring air into the soil, thereby solidifying the land. Then, basic infrastructure was built such as roads and the fields of reed were burned and replaced with rapeseed. When winter turned into spring, the newborn polder would slowly turn into a sea of yellow. These yellow plants were then replaced with various grains such as rye, wheat, barley, and oats. This process took years, but in the end the soil was rich enough to allow the planting of other crops while roads and housing were being built for the future settlers and farmers. The later polders were divided into plots of about 50 acres (20 ha). The best land is used for vegetables; the next best for rye and other grain; and the worst land is forested. Each plot has a paved road in the front and a canal in the back to make it accessible by land and water. While this test polder was being built, the engineers didn’t simply wait and see. They decided to continue with poldering other parts of the IJsselmeer and would know if there was any trouble ahead by looking at the Pilot Polder’s progress. They started with the Wieringermeer. This area that would eventually encompass this polder already included several villages, this presented a new problem for the Dutch government: who did this new land belong to? the Southern Sea was divided among the mainland municipalities. This is okay for water area, but now that it was going to be land, splitting up the responsibility among several government bodies. So it was decided that this land would be a “public body”, which meant there was a complicated arrangement where a government body was in charge of working on the polder and was committee responsible for public governance. As the polder became more populated, its people demanded representation in politics and so it became its own municipality on july 1st, 1941. The next project is the Noordoostpolder, or North East Polder. Here too, they first built dikes around the area they wanted to lay dry and then pump out all the water, cultivate with simple seeds to strengthen the ground, then continue with different plants until you can build roads and farms and eventually being cultivating the land. There were two major events related to this polder, however. The first is that much of its construction occurred under German occupation. At first they let the work continue unhindered as they wanted to create a polder inside Germany. But as the war turned for the worse, raids for people in hiding occured, workers were deported, and before losing the war they blew up parts of the dikes and partially flooding the land. Luckily this damage was repaired quickly and the water drained within a few weeks. The second major occurrence was something unexpected. You see, this polder is connected to the land. But the polder is located a few meters lower than the mainland and so, water in the soil would slowly drain into the polder. Then that water was pumped into the Southern Sea. This made the land close to the polder deprived of water and less fertile. So for the next polder they decided to leave strings of lakes surrounded the new Polder, called Flevoland. Flevoland was named after the Roman name for an ancient lake in that area, it roughly means ‘Land of the stream’. But because the polder would be surrounded by water, they needed a much longer dike, a 90 kilometer long dike was constructed for the eastern section of Flevoland. Work began in 1951 but two years later, in 1953, a massive flood hit the south of the Netherlands, a region unprotected from modern dikes such as the Afsluitdijk. This was the largest natural disaster to strike the netherlands in its entire history. This event created tens of thousands of refugees and construction on Flevoland halted until they could get the south up and running again. And these refugees needed a place to stay. Many of them were farmers and many were given plots of land in the new polders, along with carefully selected farmers from elsewhere in the netherlands. And when the south was finally safe again, many opted to stay in the new polders. But Flevoland wasn’t ready yet. Work on this polder finished in 1957 and it was decided to build a city which could function as the regional commercial and managerial capital for Flevoland and the North Eastern Polder. This city would be called Lelystad, after the man who 70 years prior laid out the plans to build this prestigious project. In 1959 the Southern Flevoland Polder began construction and finished in 1968, taking longer because they only used a single pump to drain an area of 430 KM2. Due to its proximity to Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Housing Shortage at the time, Flevoland would get a second city to relieve tension from the capital. Thanks to motorized farming equipment and artificial fertilizer, farmland had become a lot less valuable by that time. So much of Flevoland was turned into housing and nature preserves Construction on Flevoland officially finished in 1984, when the crucial urban areas were finished. Four years later, the polders would become their own province rather than being split up between the existing one, adding the twelfth province of Flevoland to The Netherlands. And the last polder was the Markerwaard. A dike was constructed to prevent minor floods in the Amsterdam region, but construction was slow, lasting 12 years, twice as long as the Afsluitdijk. The debate whether to build the last polder dragged on for years: with modern technology the need for agricultural land had disappeared. The extra space for housing was no longer needed thanks to the Southern Flevoland polder, and by this time people took ecological concerns a lot more serious. So it was decided to leave it as it was to preserve nature and for recreational use. In 2012 plans were approved to build several small islands here but it would only be accessible to tourists and birdwatchers. This project was the largest land reclamation project in history and ended only a few years before I was born. It is the dream of one man who, through his engineering genius and political cunning, was able to save thousands of lives and propel the netherlands as a country famous for hydro engineering.



Land reclamation can be achieved with a number of different methods. The most simple method involves filling the area with large amounts of heavy rock and/or cement, then filling with clay and dirt until the desired height is reached. The process is called "infilling"[3] and the material used to fill the space is generally called "infill".[4][5] Draining of submerged wetlands is often used to reclaim land for agricultural use. Deep cement mixing is used typically in situations in which the material displaced by either dredging or draining may be contaminated and hence needs to be contained. Land dredging is also another method of land reclamation. It is the removal of sediments and debris from the bottom of a body of water. It is commonly used for maintaining reclaimed land masses as sedimentation, a natural process, fills channels and harbors naturally.[6]


East Coast Park in Singapore was built on reclaimed land with a man-made beach.
East Coast Park in Singapore was built on reclaimed land with a man-made beach.
The Flevopolder in the Netherlands, reclaimed from the IJsselmeer, is the largest reclaimed artificial island in the world.
The Flevopolder in the Netherlands, reclaimed from the IJsselmeer, is the largest reclaimed artificial island in the world.
Land Reclamation in the Beirut Central District
Land Reclamation in the Beirut Central District
The whole district of Fontvieille, Monaco was reclaimed from the sea
The whole district of Fontvieille, Monaco was reclaimed from the sea

Instances where the creation of new land was for the need of human activities.

Notable examples include:



  • Waterfront Centre, Jersey



One of the earliest large scale projects was the Beemster Polder in the Netherlands, realized in 1612 adding 70 square kilometres (27 sq mi) of land. In Hong Kong the Praya Reclamation Scheme added 20 to 24 hectares (50 to 60 acres) of land in 1890 during the second phase of construction. It was one of the most ambitious projects ever taken during the Colonial Hong Kong era.[14] Some 20% of land in the Tokyo Bay area has been reclaimed,[15] most notably Odaiba artificial island. Le Portier, Monaco and Gibraltar are also expanding due to land reclamation. The city of Rio de Janeiro was largely built on reclaimed land, as was Wellington, New Zealand.

Artificial islands are an example of land reclamation. Creating an artificial island is an expensive and risky undertaking. It is often considered in places with high population density and a scarcity of flat land. Kansai International Airport (in Osaka) and Hong Kong International Airport are examples where this process was deemed necessary. The Palm Islands, The World and hotel Burj al-Arab off Dubai in the United Arab Emirates are other examples of artificial islands (although there is yet no real "scarcity of land" in Dubai), as well as the Flevopolder in the Netherlands which is the largest artificial island in the world.


Land reclamation in progress in Bingzhou (丙州) Peninsula (formerly, island) of the Dongzui Bay (东咀港). Tong'an District, Xiamen, China
Land reclamation in progress in Bingzhou (丙州) Peninsula (formerly, island) of the Dongzui Bay (东咀港). Tong'an District, Xiamen, China

Agriculture was a drive for land reclamation before industrialisation.[16] In South China, farmers reclaimed paddy fields by enclosing an area with a stone wall on the sea shore near a river mouth or river delta. The species of rice that grow on these grounds are more salt tolerant. Another use of such enclosed land is the creation of fish ponds. It is commonly seen on the Pearl River Delta and Hong Kong. These reclaimed areas also attract species of migrating birds.

A related practice is the draining of swampy or seasonally submerged wetlands to convert them to farmland. While this does not create new land exactly, it allows commercially productive use of land that would otherwise be restricted to wildlife habitat. It is also an important method of mosquito control.

Even in the post-industrial age, there have been land reclamation projects intended for increasing available agricultural land. For example, the village of Ogata in Akita, Japan, was established on land reclaimed from Lake Hachirōgata (Japan's second largest lake at the time) starting in 1957. By 1977, the amount of land reclaimed totalled 172.03 square kilometres (66.42 sq mi).[17]

Beach restoration

Beach rebuilding is the process of repairing beaches using materials such as sand or mud from inland. This can be used to build up beaches suffering from beach starvation or erosion from longshore drift. It stops the movement of the original beach material through longshore drift and retains a natural look to the beach. Although it is not a long-lasting solution, it is cheap compared to other types of coastal defences. An example of this is the city of Mumbai.[8]


As human overcrowding of developed areas intensified during the 20th century, it has become important to develop land re-use strategies for completed landfills. Some of the most common usages are for parks, golf courses and other sports fields. Increasingly, however, office buildings and industrial uses are made on a completed landfill. In these latter uses, methane capture is customarily carried out to minimize explosive hazard within the building.

An example of a Class A office building constructed over a landfill is the Dakin Building at Sierra Point, Brisbane, California. The underlying fill was deposited from 1965 to 1985, mostly consisting of construction debris from San Francisco and some municipal wastes. Aerial photographs prior to 1965 show this area to be tidelands of the San Francisco Bay. A clay cap was constructed over the debris prior to building approval.[18]

A notable example is Sydney Olympic Park, the primary venue for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games, which was built atop an industrial wasteland that included landfills.

Another strategy for landfill is the incineration of landfill trash at high temperature via the plasma-arc gasification process, which is currently used at two facilities in Japan, and will be used at a planned facility in St. Lucie County, Florida.[19]

Environmental impact

Parts (highlighted in brown) of the San Francisco Bay were reclaimed from wetlands for urban use.
Parts (highlighted in brown) of the San Francisco Bay were reclaimed from wetlands for urban use.

Draining wetlands for ploughing, for example, is a form of habitat destruction. In some parts of the world, new reclamation projects are restricted or no longer allowed, due to environmental protection laws. Reclamation projects have strong negative impacts on coastal populations, although some species can take advantage of the newly created area.[20]

Environmental legislation

A map of reclaimed land in Hong Kong: Grey (built), red (proposed or under development). Many of the urban areas of Hong Kong are on reclaimed land.
A map of reclaimed land in Hong Kong: Grey (built), red (proposed or under development). Many of the urban areas of Hong Kong are on reclaimed land.

The State of California created a state commission, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, in 1965 to protect San Francisco Bay and regulate development near its shores. The commission was created in response to growing concern over the shrinking size of the bay.

Hong Kong legislators passed the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance, proposed by the Society for Protection of the Harbour, in 1997 in an effort to safeguard the increasingly threatened Victoria Harbour against encroaching land development.[21] Several large reclamation schemes at Green Island, West Kowloon, and Kowloon Bay were subsequently shelved, and others reduced in size.


Reclaimed land is highly susceptible to soil liquefaction during earthquakes,[22] which can amplify the amount of damage that occurs to buildings and infrastructure. Subsidence is another issue, both from soil compaction on filled land, and also when wetlands are enclosed by levees and drained to create Polders. Drained marshes will eventually sink below the surrounding water level, increasing the danger from flooding.

Land amounts added

about 1/6 (almost 17%) of the entire country, or about 7,000 square kilometres (2,700 sq mi) in total, has been reclaimed from the sea, lakes, marshes and swamps. The province of Flevoland has almost completely been reclaimed from the Zuiderzee.
  • South Korea – As of 2006, 38 percent or 1,550 square kilometres (600 sq mi) of coastal wetlands reclaimed, including 400 square kilometres (150 sq mi) at Saemangeum. Songdo International Business district, the largest private development in history, is a large-scale reclamation project built entirely on tidal mudflats.
  • Singapore – 20 percent of the original size or 135 square kilometres (52 sq mi). As of 2003, plans for 99 square kilometres (38 sq mi) more are to go ahead,[24] despite the fact that disputes persist with Malaysia over Singapore's extensive land reclamation works.[25] Parts of Singapore Airport are also on reclaimed land.
  • Hong Kong – (Main article: Land reclamation in Hong Kong)
Praya Reclamation Scheme began in the late 1860s and consisted of two stages totaling 20 to 24 hectares (50 to 60 acres).[14] Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong International Airport, and its predecessor, Kai Tak Airport, were all built on reclaimed land. In addition, much reclamation has taken place in prime locations on the waterfront on both sides of Victoria Harbour. This has raised environmental issues of the protection of the harbour which was once the source of prosperity of Hong Kong, traffic congestion in the Central district,[26] as well as the collusion of the Hong Kong Government with the real estate developers in the territory.[27][28]
In addition, as the city expands, new towns in different decades were mostly built on reclaimed land, such as Tuen Mun, Tai Po, Shatin-Ma On Shan, West Kowloon, Kwun Tong and Tseung Kwan O.
Country Reclaimed land (km2) Note
 China 13,500+ Land reclamation in China
 Netherlands 7,000 Flevoland, de Beemster, Afsluitdijk
Land reclamation in the Netherlands
 South Korea 1,550
 United States 1,000+ Artificial islands of the United States
 Japan 500+
 UAE 470 Land reclamation in the UAE
 Bahrain 410
 Singapore 135 Land reclamation in Singapore
 Bangladesh 110
 Qatar 35
 Macau 17
 New Zealand 3.3 Reclamation of Wellington Harbour[35]
 Sri Lanka 2.33 km2 (0.90 sq mi) Colombo International Financial City[36]
 Maldives 0.62 [37]
 Monaco 0.41 Land reclamation in Monaco

See also


  1. ^ "American Society for Mining and Reclamation". Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  2. ^ Powter, Chris (2002). "Glossary of Reclamation and Remediation Terms used in Alberta" (PDF). Government of Alberta. ISBN 0-7785-2156-7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-09. Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  3. ^ Lambi, Cornelius Mbifung (2001). Environmental issues: problems and prospects. Bamenda, Cameroon: Unique Printers. p. 152. ISBN 978-9956-11-005-6.
  4. ^ "Wisconsin Supplement Engineering Field Handbook Chapter 16: Streambank and Shoreline Protection" (PDF). United States Department of Agriculture. p. 16–WI–36.
  5. ^ "Regional Road Maintenance ESA Program, Part 2: Best Management Practices" (PDF). Washington State Department of Transportation. p. 2.42. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-06-11. Retrieved 2014-05-02.
  6. ^ Administration, US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric. "What is dredging?". Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  7. ^ (, Site designed and built by Hydrant (2013-03-07). "Depth charges: Land reclamation and dredging are big business". Oxford Business Group. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
  8. ^ a b Mumbai, Srinath Perur in (2016-03-30). "Story of cities #11: the reclamation of Mumbai – from the sea, and its people?". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
  9. ^ Murray N. J., Clemens R. S., Phinn S. R., Possingham H. P. & Fuller R. A. (2014) Tracking the rapid loss of tidal wetlands in the Yellow Sea. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 12, 267–72. doi: 10.1890/130260
  10. ^ Brian Lander. State Management of River Dikes in Early China: New Sources on the Environmental History of the Central Yangzi Region . T'oung Pao 100.4-5 (2014): 325–362; Mira Mihelich, “Polders and Politics of Land Reclamation in Southeast China during the Northern Sung” (Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell Univ., 1979); Peter Perdue, Exhausting the Earth: State and Peasant in Hunan 1500–1850 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Council on East Asian Studies, 1987); Mei Li 梅莉, Zhang Guoxiong 張國雄, and Yan Changgui 晏昌貴, Lianghu pingyuan kaifa tanyuan 兩湖平原開發探源 (Nanchang: Jiangxi jiaoyu chubanshe, 1995); Shiba Yoshinobu, “Environment versus Water Control: The Case of the Southern Hangzhou Bay Area from the Mid-Tang Through the Qing,” in Sediments of Time: Environment and Society in Chinese History, ed. Mark Elvin and Ts'ui-jung Liu (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 135–64
  11. ^ "Jakarta clears hurdle in reclamation project".
  12. ^ Collin Anderson (2016). DP Architects on Marina Bay: Designing for Reclaimed Lands. Oro Editions. ISBN 9781941806975.
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b Bard, Solomon. [2002] (2002). Voices from the Past: Hong Kong 1842–1918. HK University press. ISBN 962-209-574-7
  15. ^ Petry, Anne K. (July 2003). "Geography of Japan" (PDF). Japan Digest, Indiana University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2009-07-30.
  16. ^ Curtis, Daniel R. "Into the frontier: medieval land reclamation and the creation of new societies. Comparing Holland and the Po Valley, 800–1500".
  17. ^ "The History of Ogata-Mura | Ogata-mura". Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2014-04-17.
  18. ^ Paul B. Awosika and Marc Papineau, Phase One Environmental Site Assessment, 7000 Marina Boulevard, Brisbane, California, prepared for Argentum International by Certified. Engineering & Testing Company, Boston, Massachusetts, July 15, 1993
  19. ^ "Florida county plans to vaporize landfill trash". USA Today. 2006-09-09. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
  20. ^ Borzée, Amaël; Kim, Kyungmin; Heo, Kyongman; Jablonski, Piotr G.; Jang, Yikweon (4 October 2017). "Impact of land reclamation and agricultural water regime on the distribution and conservation status of the endangered Dryophytes suweonensis". PeerJ. 5: e3872. doi:10.7717/peerj.3872.
  21. ^ Wallis, Keith (February 12, 1996). "Bill seeks to protect harbour". Hong Kong Standard. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
  22. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-07-23. Retrieved 2012-04-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ ""Bangladesh fights for survival against climate change," by William Wheeler and Anna-Katarina Gravgaard, The Washington Times". Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  24. ^ "Singapore Finds it Hard to Expand Without Sand". Planet Ark. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
  25. ^ "Singapore". The World Factbook. CIA. 1 September 2010. section Transnational issues. Retrieved 1 October 2010. disputes persist with Malaysia over […] extensive land reclamation works
  26. ^ "Courts protect our imperiled waterway – at least for the time being". Hong Kong Standard. August 14, 2006. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
  27. ^ DeGolyer, Michael (March 15, 2007). "Commentary: Just Looking for Answers". Hong Kong Standard. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
  28. ^ Ng, Michael (October 5, 2006). "Lawmaker warns of West Kowloon arts venue glut". Hong Kong Standard. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Philippine Reclamation Authority". Archived from the original on 2016-05-06. External link in |website= (help)
  31. ^ "Japan Fact Sheet". Japan Reference. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
  32. ^ Chief, Habib Toumi, Bahrain Bureau (2010-01-12). "Bahrain parliament wants solution to land reclamation issue". GulfNews. Retrieved 2018-02-04.
  33. ^ Charles Fairbairn (2017-04-04). "Auckland International Airport: A work in progress". Contractor Magazine.
  34. ^ Wellington City Council — Off to a flying start with Wellington Airport
  35. ^ "150 years of news: How reclamations shaped Wellington". Stuff. Retrieved 2017-12-13.
  36. ^ {{Site web|url=
  37. ^ "UAE Dredging Company Gulf Cobla Delivers Maldives Airport Land Reclamation for Expansion Project - International Dredging Review - May-June 2017". Retrieved 2017-12-13.


External links

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