Land reclamation is the process of creating new land by raising the elevation of a waterbed or low-lying land or by pumping water out of muddy morass areas.
Land reclamation can be achieved by poldering or by raising the elevation of a seabed or riverbed or low-lying land by:
- dry earth movement; or
- hydraulic filling.
Pumping water out of muddy land or marshes is known as poldering. The area that is pumped dry is then enclosed by dikes.
Dry earth movement
Dry earth movement for reclamation includes earth that is retrieved from land-based areas.
Hydraulic fill reclamation
Hydraulic fill reclamation has become more common in recent times and land reclamation sites can be found all over the world.
Uses of land reclamation
Whatever method is used to reclaimed land, it is usually part of a comprehensive project such as the construction or expansion of a port, of an airport, or of residential or commercial complexes.
Reclamation is also used for beach replenishment and shore and dune replacements as well as to restore islands, for instances, in the Maldives, that have been ravaged by storms and erosion.
Artificial islands have also been built with reclaimed fill as environmental compensation measures for migratory birds and marine life.
It has also been used in the offshore gas and oil industry to build artificial islands for work installations.
Requirements for reclamation
Land reclamation demands extensive and elaborate planning. This will include identifying suitable fill at a borrow area, selecting the appropriate equipment, executing extensive site investigations and collecting hydrographic data.
Cost benefit analyses, environmental impact assessments, monitoring of the project and testing of the materials, and intense involvement of all stakeholders are all crucial to the success of a land reclamation project.
Given the growing world population, which needs increased housing options, the growth in world trade by water and thus a need for ports, plus the increase in climate events – storms and floods – related to global warming, land reclamation will certainly be in demand for the near future.