Isle of Sylt - Germany

Complete description of case study






Title Isle of Sylt
National level Germany
Regional level Schleswig-Holstein


The vulnerable island Sylt has a multi-functional socio-economic nature and is covered by a mixture of natural and cultural land uses. Besides high-level standards in living and recreation facilities, Sylt offers unique aspects of a biotope.

The entire western coast is eroding. The island loses the majority of this sand through storm tides. Waves and tides continuously erode and move away material from the sandy shore and foreshore area, causing structural erosion. The dune cliffs are affected only at irregular intervals during storm surges.

The central part of Sylt has always been strongly protected in the past and still is (because of the high economic values) by hard coastal protection measures. The hard measures have turned out not always to be effective in stopping the erosion. Although the central part of Sylt is reasonably stable, partly because of the hard measures taken there, in the long run these measures will fail. Nourishments are now needed to protect these hard coastal constructions. Furthermore, the nourishments are effective in stopping the coastline from receding and their performance is satisfactory. At Westerland, nourishments have to be repeated every six years.


Coastal characteristics
  • Study area: 40 km
  • Type of coast: soft rock coast, sandy beaches
  • Tidal regime: meso tidal
  • Wave climate : from SW e NW ; storms = occasional storm surges
Policy options Hold the line, Managed Realignment
Socio-economic activities Tourism, nature conservation, urbanisation
Engineering techniques Historic: Revetment, seawall, Rif enhancement, Geotextile revetment, tetrapod dune revetment, groins, tetrapod barriers.
Present: Artificial beach nourishment


Name Paul Sistermans
Odelinde Nieuwenhuis
Institution DHV group
Address Laan 1914 nr.35, 3818 EX Amersfoort
PO Box 219 3800 AE Amersfoort The Netherlands
Telephone / fax +31 (0)33 468 37 00 / +31 (0)33 468 37 48