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HABITAT HEDWIGE POLDER: a business challenge

Multi-disciplinary approach to design and build a better business system that saves costs and provides valuable services to the Antwerp Port and positive impact on the Biome.



A habitat is the place where animal finds what it needs to survive. More than a geographical place, a habitat is all the opportunities and challenges an animal faces, including competition, climate, food availability, predators and host of other conditions that can´t be described on a map. Through the wonders of natural selection, each survival machine is custom crafted to excel in its particular constellation of living conditions. Its body and behaviour echo the habitat it evolved in.[1]


















For centuries the Dutch have been draining the land in many places. Where there are now towns and arable land, there was once sea. The Polders are permanently drained areas that lie bellow sea level and are used as arable land.[2]  Hedwige Polder is a site of special value as habitat due to its biodiversity.[3] The Polders are definitively a masterpiece of creative planning and architecture, (recognized in 1999 by the UNESCO Worlds Heritage Site List) in which the ideals of antiquity and the Renaissance were applied to the design of a reclaimed landscape. [4]More than 50 years ago was born a Deciduous Forest with more than 6000 trees. Today Hedwige Polder has a Natural Water Pond and an Artificial one. More than 4500 trees nurture every cycle from migratory bats and birds to insects and mushrooms. Hedwige Polder is the Habitat of many European Protected Species and several included in the Red List (Endangered species). Hedwige Polder was established in 1907, and since then the 3 first pioneers (Centennial Crack Willows) started new ecosystems. Nature is resilient and creates conditions conducive to life[5].



A centennial ecosystem, Habitat Hedwige Polder is legally doomed to be flooded in 2016. A State Decision for the sake of progress, employments and The Economy. The taken solution for a complex negotiation problem between countries in the heart of Europe opens the possibility to imagine and re-design the role of the business in the Region and to take a Global leadership on shaping the future by showing a great example, a European example. The Antwerp Port expansion is mandatory to keep our lifestyles so it is imperative to evolve our business models if we are going to thrive and ensure the survival of the next generations in our Planet.  




How can Humans be transcendent for life in the planet? For example, you cannot take plants out of the cycles because they are vital for many processes and life forms. Plants banked on their relationships to ensure their role in life. If business rules the World, it is time for new business paradigms. For the moment our best shot as a species remains, as since our origins, on imitating what works and learning from what did not. Bellow some guidelines to make the concept tangible:


  • From Competition to Collaboration.

Systemic and Multidisciplinary approach to leverage our collective advantage as species.


  • From Linear to Systemic Value.

Positive Industries. New industries must add Sustainable Value to their Region and to the Planet


  • From Maximization to Optimization.

Life’s Principles are design lessons from nature based on the recognition that Life on Earth is interconnected and interdependent


Frezsco offers to the Habitat Hedwige Polder a business system that provides valuable services to the Antwerp Port and to the Economic Region in seven strategic areas:




Living Systems

Water treatment using the artificial water pond to clean an regenerate polluted water

The Natural Water Pond is already harvesting rain water just beside the sea




Natural Infrastructure

Ecosystem services and wind management are the main functions of a 4500 trees (wind towers) working as a super-organism.


FOOD Production


Soil regeneration and resilience in our local communities to grow our food in a way that enhances the natural cycles


WASTE Management


Treatment that uses naturally occurring organisms to break down hazardous substances into less toxic or non toxic substances



Open Knowledge

New Technologies

Local biodiversity can lead us to the next biggest solution if we better understand its genius using Biomimicry thinking





Relevant information about its ecosystems will always empower the local communities, its schools and many global education networks



[1] The Secret Language of Animals, Janine M. Benyus, 2014

[2] MAPS , Big Picture Press, 2013

[3] ECOSA Ecological Impact Assessment ,

[4] UNESCO World Heritage List

[5]  The Biomimicry Institute 






Expropriation and destruction as a solution for our lack of capacity on finding better solutions is not right. We cannot afford to keep destroying our Natural Infrastructure in the Heart of Europe. We do need great projects to be inspired instead.


Let us list some of the reasons why we understood the project to destroy the Habitat Hedwige Polder is not in our best interest as species, as a Region or as a Local Community:



Waste of Money

There are better ways of spending Public money than destruction.  It looks more like allocation of contracts. We must perform better



Conflict of interests

All the actors involved in the decision of expropriation have interests that could possibly corrupt the motivation of the decision.




Killing a Centennial Ecosystem and a 4500 Trees Deciduous Forest is an Ecocide.  It is Illegal to destroy the habitat of European Protected Species or Red Listed. Habitat Hedwige Polder stands for both.




Do you think the Prosper Polder looks beautiful? Killing one ecosystem, taking all the mineral in the soil, fulfilling it with trash, and cutting all the trees does NOT sounds like conservation at all.



Giving back to Nature?

Intertidal zones are ecotones. The dykes totally stop the exchange of nutrients. It is true that a Polder is a human-made ecosystem, but it is false that by relocating a dyke will bring the previous ecosystem back.



Flooding System?

Removing a dyke will make a bigger pool for sediments. The sediments are great mainly for one type of plant but not for enhancing biodiversity. It looks more like a bigger pollution pool.



Other Inspiring & successful examples:


NY Water



(by the authors)


Brazilian Sustainable Agriculture




World Business Council for Sustainable Devlopment

Natural Infrastructure for Business


How Nature-based and Gray Infrastructure Work Together to Protect Communities


Great Initiatives:

-Living Systems (John Todd)

-The Land Institute (Wes Jackson)

-Warner and Babckock Green Chemistry

-The Green School  Bali

-Biomimicry Living Labs  (Ana Marja Roddick)

-Living Bridges India


-RHEA - natural Resources Human Environment & Agronomy

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