Integration of water management and land consolidation in rural areas to adapt to climate change: Experiences from Poland and the Netherlands

Małgorzata Stańczuk-Gałwiaczek, Katarzyna Sobolewska-Mikulska, Henk Ritzema, Jantsje M. van Loon-Steensma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Rural areas face major challenges in adapting to the impacts of climate change, in particular to floods and droughts. This calls for both adaptation of rural functions and climate-proof and water-resilient design of the rural area, often implying improvement of water retention and flood protection. Implementation of such climate change-related goals in spatial planning often involves adaptations in water management, perhaps even leading to land consolidation. Water management and land consolidation thus form important tools for spatial adaptation. Land consolidation is also a tool to support the integration of other claims that need room, such as agriculture, nature, landscape and tourism functions. This paper investigates the history of and approaches to land consolidation and water management in Poland and the Netherlands, and illustrates the integration of land consolidation and water management to realize a multifunctional climate resilient rural area by two examples in each country. We qualitatively compared the extent to which the planned activities in water retention and flood protection were realized and planned results were achieved for other functions. We found that the two adaptation measures, water retention and flood protection, were more effective in the Netherlands, stemming from ample attention for the impact of climate change and the incorporation of climate change adaptation goals in water policy. Furthermore, the water retention and flood protection measures in the Netherlands better serve multiple functions: agriculture, nature, recreation, landscape and infrastructure. Reasons for this are the multidisciplinary and participatory approach, attention to public awareness and communication and promotion of the process. On the other hand, the Dutch have much to learn from Poland's vast, undisturbed natural areas, which contribute to a climate resilient landscape. Both Poland and the Netherlands could therefore benefit from bringing together ideas and experiences regarding climate proofing the rural area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-511
Number of pages14
JournalLand Use Policy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018


  • European policy
  • Land consolidation
  • Process effectiveness assessment
  • Rural development
  • Spatial adaptation
  • Water management


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