Responsible dredging


Extracting construction sand, while at the same time creating valuable opportunities for nature and recreation – at the Kraaijenbergse Plassen in Cuijk we are delivering on this two-fold ambition. Smals has been making a sustainable contribution to the development of this area for around 45 years now. Pastureland for cows has been transformed into a paradise for people and animals.

The project has been planned and implemented in consultation with the local authority, residents and other stakeholders, and the result has been well received. Over a hundred million tonnes of construction sand have been extracted. In exchange for this, an area has been created offering a wealth of opportunities when it comes to recreation. There are holiday homes, beaches and moorings, and visitors can enjoy activities such as rowing, canoeing, surfing, swimming, nature walks and cycling. With marshes, islets and copses, there is also plenty of room for nature, including bird nesting sites and badger setts.

Sand extraction and area development have gone hand in hand throughout the duration of the project. A special fund for maintenance has been set up using proceeds from the construction sand. These funds are now managed by the municipality of Cuijk. The approach we have taken at the Kraaijenbergse Plassen is a textbook example of how businesses, public authorities and stakeholders should work together – from drawing up plans and performing studies through to carrying out the work and safeguarding the results.

  • Total area developed: 1,200 hectares
    500 hectares of water, 25 kilometres of banks
    Beaches, woods, recreation and a paradise for flora and fauna
    120 million tonnes of construction sand
Happy faces

‘If you look back over what Smals has achieved over the past hundred years, you will mostly see happy faces. Naturally, you meet with question marks and suspicion at first. But afterwards you can see that people are satisfied – with how we have cooperated with local parties and also with the results we have achieved for citizens, the region and the natural environment. This is evident, for example, from the various provincial administrators, mayors and national politicians who have been glowing in their praise of Smals over the years.’


We maintain a constant focus on the environment – whether we are removing silt and transforming a problem into a useful raw material, or extracting construction sand over a number of years and developing a valuable nature and recreation area in the process.


Cooperation comes naturally to Smals. It is something we enjoy. The projects we work on often extend over long periods – in some cases as much as 10 years. That means public authorities, contracting authorities, researchers, environmental monitoring bodies and interest groups need to work together – on everything from case studies, technological innovations and permit procedures through to implementation.

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