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Study case Heist

Overview of Belgian coast zooming in on Heist

Map with indication of the MMA elements

The Bay of Heist is a unique but very complex area with many users. It is situated on the border of the coastal municipalities of Zeebrugge and Heist. The Belgian Marine Management Area lies between the West side of the harbour of Zeebrugge and the beach of Duinbergen. It is a rich area as well for the coastal economy (port and tourism), the coastal ecology and for the inhabitants of Zeebrugge and Knokke-Heist.

The users of the area are as varied as its natural habitats.

The key “players” in the case study are:

  • The Special Protection Area (Habitat Directive) in the marine environment and the Targeted Nature Reserve
  • The Flemish nature reserve on the beach in Heist
  • The surf club VVW Heist
  • The beaches of Heist and Duinbergen (both situated within the municipality of Knokke-Heist)
  • The industrial port of Zeebrugge
  • The tern peninsula within the harbor of Zeebrugge

Challenges and conflicts:

  • Need for the surf club to move eastwards because of conflicts with the Flemish nature reserve on the beach in Heist;
  • The growing sandbank in front of Heist jeopardises the functioning of the surf club, even on the new location as foreseen in the Spatial Plans for the beach;
  • The growing sandbank is creating great concerns within the municipality of Knokke-Heist. The municipality fears the wide beach will have a negative effect on the recreational use of the beach;
  • The sandbank will cause an extension of the Flemish territory, as the beach and sandbank will be connected at low tide. Flanders is growing, which will lead to juridical changes;

The case study will be an ideal opportunity to test the vertical (between authority levels, including land-sea connection) and horizontal integration within the coastal and marine management plan.

The final aim is to develop a long-term vision for the Bay and the sandbank of Heist, in close consultation with all stakeholders.

Elements in the long-term vision will include at least:

  • Description of the area, including the juridical status, current use, sectors and parties involved
  • Inventory of relevant policy documents
  • SWOT analysis
  • Description of the developments of the sandbank and prognoses
  • Evaluation of beach morphology in Knokke-Heist
  • A socio-economic analyses of the recreational uses of the beach
  • A questionnaire with the beach users will support the long-term vision

The socio-economic analyses will answer the following questions:

  • What is the impact of the growing sandbank on the recreational use of the beach?
  • What are the threats and opportunities for the recreational sector?
  • Which future scenarios can be developed for a new use of the beach in the future to ensure the recreational return in Heist and Duinbergen?

Outcome of the C-SCOPE project