• P. Meire
  • T. Ysebaert
  • S. Van Damme
  • E. Van den Bergh
  • T. Maris
  • E. Struyf
Estuaries are naturally highly dynamic and rapidly changing systems, forming a complex mixture of many different habitat types. They are very productive biomes and support many important ecosystem functions: biogeochemical cycling and movement of nutrients, mitigation of floods, maintenance of biodiversity and biological production. Human pressure on estuaries is very high. On the other hand, it is recognized that estuaries have a unique functional and structural biodiversity. Therefore, these ecosystems are particularly important for integrating sound ecological management with sustainable economics. These opportunities are explored for the Scheldt estuary, a well-documented system with an exceptional tidal freshwater area. In this article a description of the Scheldt estuary is presented, illustrating that human influence is intertwined with natural dynamics. Hydrology, geomorphology, trophic status and diversity are discussed, and possible future trends in both natural evolution and management are argued. [KEYWORDS: Scheldt estuary ; ecosystem management ; estuary ; ecosystem functions]
Original languageEnglish
Journal publication date2005

ID: 222087