During its reclaiming nature took control of this area and never let go. This has given the Netherlands a nature reserve that is unique in Europe: the Oostvaardersplassen. From the start, the area has surprised and fascinated people. Nature there stands on its own two feet and has a full life cycle. This leads to exceptional natural values, but also to a new relationship between man and nature. Never before have the ethical and legal aspects of nature management been so thoroughly scrutinised.
The area is characterised by its large grazers that occurred in the Netherlands long ago. Red deer, konik horses and Heck cattle live in wild herds in a natural manner. They play a key role in natural dynamics. They also play a role in the societal debate because they are exponents of nature’s raw side, particularly in winter when natural selection takes its toll.
A quite different grazer also plays a major role: the greylag goose. It was the first to land in the area and its ‘dining habits’ determined the landscape. Many exceptional animals, plants and birds were to follow with the return of the white-tailed eagle to the Netherlands as the highlight so far.
The nature reserve’s most valuable aspect is its unparalleled variety in species and the manner in which nature is developing which is unheard of. This puts a great deal of knowledge within our grasp. The area not only inspires nature managers and scientists to contemplate nature, but also offers schoolchildren, visitors and those passing by a special experience.
Nature has gained more room with the creation of the Oostvaarderswold, a robust link to the Horsterwold. This provides resilient nature and more space for people to enjoy.