The Zwin is a nature reserve at the North Sea coast, on the Belgian-Dutch border. It consists of the entrance area of a former tidal inlet which during the Middle Ages connected the North Sea with the ports of Sluis and Bruges inland.
The Zwin inlet was formed originally by a storm that broke through the Flemish coast in 1134, creating a tidal channel that reached some 15 km inland and was also connected, through another channel, to the mouth of the Scheldt further north-east. The new waterway offered access to the sea to the inland city of Bruges, which consequently rose to become one of the foremost medieval port cities of Europe. However, from the late 13th century onwards, the channel was affected by progressive silting, which ultimately caused the waterway to become unusable and cut off the harbour of Bruges from the sea.
The present-day nature reserve was founded in 1952. It has an area of 1.25 square kilometres in Belgium and 0.33 square kilometres in The Netherlands. It is famous for its large variety in salt-resistant flora and is also popular with bird watchers, as (for instance) one of the few places in Belgium with a population of white storks.
In March 1986 it was declared a Wetland of International Importance. Because the Zwin is threatened by the on going problem of silting up, Flemish and Dutch partners recently decided to launch a number of large construction projects which will soon thoroughly change the appearance of the Zwin.
Image made with kite and camera (attached to the kite's line).