By P.H. Nienhuis
This booklet provides the environmental historical past of the Delta of the lowland rivers Rhine and Meuse, an ecological tale on evolving human–environmental kin dealing with weather switch and sea-level upward push. It deals a mixture of in-depth ecology and environmental historical past, facing exploitation of land and water, using every thing nature supplied, the advance of fisheries and agriculture, adjustments in biodiversity of upper vegetation, fish, birds, mammals and invasive exotics. it's the first finished e-book written in English at the built-in environmental background of the Delta, from prehistoric occasions as much as the current day. It covers the l- acy of human intervention, the inescapable destiny of reclaimed, however subs- ing and sinking polders, ‘bathtubs’ attacked by way of quite a few floods, reclaimed within the center a while and unwittingly uncovered to the emerging sea point and the expanding amplitude among low and high water within the rivers. The river channels, constricted and controlled among embankments, misplaced their flood plains, silted up, degraded and incised. Cultivation of raised lavatory deposits resulted in oxidation and compacting of peat and clay, leading to revolutionary subsidence and flooding; arable land needed to be become grassland and wetland. For millennia muscular energy and wind and water powers moulded the rustic into its easy shape. From 1800 onwards, acceleration and scaling up through steam strength and electrical energy, and exponential popu- tion progress, ended in the erection of human buildings ‘fixed forever’, and critical strain at the environment.
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Additional resources for Environmental History of the Rhine–Meuse Delta: An ecological story on evolving human–environmental relations coping with climate change and sea-level rise
7 Human settlements in the area of the Large Rivers, the eastern part of the Rhine and Meuse basins, in the 2nd and 3rd century ad. 4 2 Prehistory and Early History of the Delta The Roman Waterworks During the early development of the market economy in the Delta the Romans created an extensive new infrastructure, a system of waterways and roads, harbours and storage yards. Existing rivers and watercourses were adapted so that trade ships could sail from one harbour to the other. Rowing, poling and towing of boats was also common practice.
This chapter shows that the initial outline of the present river landscape was shaped before the year ad 1000, in contrast with the prevailing opinion (cf. Van de Ven, 2004) about the history of water management in the Netherlands. 1 From the Old Stone Age to the Roman Period The Dawn Of the Delta The general features of land and water in the Delta (what is now called the Netherlands) were shaped in the Pleistocene era, in geological terms a recent period, starting several hundreds of thousands of years ago.
3 2 Prehistory and Early History of the Delta From Hunters to Settlers As said before, during the New Stone Age a gradual change from hunters to settlers took place in river land. An increasing number of excavations reveal that the entire basins of Rhine and Meuse were sparsely populated in pre-Roman times. Natural levees along rivers, river dunes and sandy outcrops were the most suitable places to build farms. Grinded stone (and later on bronze) chopping utensils were used for the felling of trees and primitive ploughs for farming the fields.