Tuesday 20 August 2019

Creation of ‘biggest nature reserve’ in the Netherlands takes shape

Oostvaardersplassen is part of the new park, Nieuw Land

Flevoland provincial authorities have given the green light to the creation of what will be the biggest national park in the Netherlands.

National Park Nieuw Land (new land) will comprise existing nature reserves the Oostvaardersplassen, Lepelaarsplassen, Trintelzand and the Marker Wadden which will be extended and linked, broadcaster NOS writes. The park will take 20 years and at least €470m to develop,

The inclusion of the Oostvaardersplassen, which has been the scene of large-scale, controversial culls of deer, is a victory for VVD and SGP local councillors, who had been looking to force a decision on the management of the reserve which was turned over to the provincial authorities in 2016.

The plan for the new reserve provoked furious reactions from bird protection organisation Vogelbescherming Nederland as well as nature lovers who feared more tourism would disturb wildlife and destroy the character of the reserve in which human interference is kept at a minimum and which only allows in small groups of visitors.

However, architect Francine Houben, who has been charged with the park’s design, said she intends to maintain the protected status of the Oostvaardersplassen reserve by limiting recreation to a newly planted forest on the edge of the reserve.

Motorway

The A6 motorway is also part of the plan because, Houben said, it will encourage passing motorists to get out of their cars and explore.

Spokesperson IJsbrand Zwart of the Dutch forestry commission Staatsbosbeheer told the broadcaster the new park will become a ‘bird paradise of international importance’.

He is not afraid the new park will not be able to absorb the projected doubling of visitors to some two million a year. Visitors will enter the park via visitors centres in areas with recreational facilities, such as restaurants, he said, and where bikes and canoes can be rented to further explore the park.

‘It’s not going to be like Amsterdam or something, two million people does not look like that,’ Houben told NOS.

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