Terrain shapes and bedrock
According to COUNTRYAAH, most of the Netherlands is a low lying plain, covered by thick layers of loose soils. Only in the border area to the Ardennes at the far south-east is the terrain higher and cooler with a maximum height in Vaalserberg, 322 m above sea level. The bedrock consists mainly of tertiary and mesozoic rocks.
To the east is a wavy moorland (spirit) made up of moraine and sand deposits prevailing.
In the west, marine deposits dominate, and the terrain is characterized by dunes and built-up embankments (the dikes) that protect the low-lying land – largely below sea level – from being flooded by seawater. About half of the area is made up of polders, embroidered areas that have been drained with the help of pumps and locks, and forms fertile cultivation areas and land for development centers. The struggle against the onslaught of the sea waves and attempts at land reclamation began as early as the Middle Ages, but repeatedly the ramparts were razed and the sea broke inland. The former Zuiderzee bay was separated from the Waddenzee tidal area in 1932 by a built barrier, Afsluitdijk, whereby the IJsselmeer lake was formed.
The southern coastline is divided by estuaries and large islands, in the middle part it is slightly arcuate and in the north lies the West Frisian Islands, which separate the Wadden Sea from the North Sea. The most important rivers are from the south Schelde, Maas and the Rhine (Rijn), all with multiple estuary arms. The Rhine divides into Lek and Waal and IJssel which flows north.
The Netherlands has a warm-tempered, humid climate with mild winter and cool summer, mainly due to its proximity to the sea and a lively low-pressure operation. Western to southern winds dominate and they face little resistance in the flat terrain. During the autumn and winter, numerous storms occur, especially in the coastal country.
The winter average temperature is around +2 °C with frost for about two months. The July temperature is on average 18 °C, while the annual average temperature is 10 °C with a long growing period as a result. The average annual rainfall is 790 mm; most of the rain falls during late summer and autumn. The average cloudiness is high and only about 25 days a year are completely clear.
Plant-and animal life
Although the Netherlands is one of the world’s most densely populated countries, there is a surprisingly rich nature. Nature is seen as an invaluable resource for people, the majority of whom live in the cities, and society is therefore investing considerable resources in its conservation. The Dutch have invested heavily in innovative thinking in nature conservation, including the re-creation of valuable nature. In addition, they have taken good care of the small nature that remains and allocated many national parks and reserves.
The country consists of four geographical parts: along the North Sea coast in the west and north of the West Frisian islands and the Wadden Sea, in the southern lowlands formed by the rivers Rhine, Waal and Maas and their joint participation on the North Sea coast, in the central parts the intensively cultivated polder system with the invaded Ijsselms/Markermeer and in the east a more upland but flat inland.
North Sea Coast
The northernmost of the West Frisian Islands – Schiermonnikoog – is the country’s first national park (1989) and protects one of the most unspoilt natural sections of the country, where wind and water are still given free space to shape the landscape. The island itself is dominated by sand dunes with typical seashore plants such as beach rye, beach quill and seawater. The marshland and the large tidal zones are the most important natural areas. Here you will find seal seals and more than half a million birds during autumn, winter and spring. Most common are the oystercatcher, dunlin, red knot, curlew, bar-tailed godwit, eider, shelduck,barley goose and white goose goose.
At the far south of the West Frisian Islands is another national park, Duinen van Texel. Here, a coastal dune area with confined, smaller lakes has been preserved. The National Park is famous for its nesting spoon dryers. Earth owl and tern are other notable birds.
In the rivers Waals and Maas large delta area lies the country’s largest national park, the Oosterschelde. The outer parts are characterized by the salt water of the North Sea, where you can find seal seals, octopus (Sepia officinalis), mussels, sea anemones and many fish. The bird life is rich with nesting cuts and black-legged beach beetles. During moving times, large quantities of barbed goose, tundra swan, burrow, windblown, beach scat, marsh snap, coastal snap, coastal pipers, big bucket and marsh pov occur.
In the central parts of the northern Netherlands there are extensive heath and dune areas with two national parks, Drents-Friese Wold and Dwingelderveld. Both protect the largest interconnected lush moorlands in Western Europe with confined lakes and streams where moving sand dunes are still allowed to shape the landscape. The rare alcone bluff, with a specialized adaptation to clock gentian as well as parasite on ants, finds good living conditions here.
A little further south is another national park, Sallandse Heuvelrug, which is also characterized by heaths and which houses the country’s only remaining trunk of blackberry.
Not far from Lake IJsselmeer in central Netherlands is the National Park Weerribben – Wieden with Western Europe’s largest freshwater marsh. The area arose after extensive peat cover during the first half of the 20th century and today houses the country’s most important stock of marsh gold wing (Lycaena dispar), nesting black tern and implanted otters. Every year, 1 million people visit the park by canoe, boat, bike or on foot without jeopardizing the natural values.
Where the rivers Waal and Maas radiate in the inner parts of the great delta area of the Netherlands lies the national park Biesbosch – one of the largest in the country. Here you can go canoeing on the winding riverbanks and canals among large pastures, reeds, marshes and meadows on exotic experiences where the opportunity to see one of the park’s 150 beavers, listen to the tropical summer gills or catch a glimpse of the colorful kingfisher is quite large. Other typical animal species are egret, silk heron and white-tailed blue hawk. Recently have sea eaglesstarted to nest. Biesbosch is one of the last areas of its kind in Europe, where freshwater ecosystems are affected by tides. In adaptation to this, a unique, tall form of cobweb (Caltha palustris var. Araneosa) has been developed with a distinctive form of spider-like roots.
In the middle of the Netherlands lies the conservation area Oostvaardersplassen. When the new polder was to be built in the province of Flevoland in the late 1960s, the idea of creating a whole new reserve for free, natural development was aroused. At the same time, they wanted to test how large herbivores affect their environment. On trial, a form of urox-like cattle (heck cattle) was introduced at the beginning of 1983, followed by a primitive horse breed (conic) and red deer, and the results did not wait. Without support feeding during the winter months, these animals have grown in number, which has had a positive effect on the landscape. Along with large amounts of grazing gray geese, ideal conditions are created for other species, both birds and mammals. Many animals – both large and small – have immigrated naturally. In addition, Oostvaardersplassen has become a bird paradise from which several species have chosen to colonize the Netherlands. sea eagle and egret.
With knowledge from Oostvaardersplassen, several similar experiments have been initiated to restore nature along the rivers Rhine, Waal and Maas and in other areas where grazing animals have been given free space to create a more natural mosaic landscape. In all places, the results have been very positive. Work has also begun to link these areas into a large ecological network of rivers, wetlands, meadows, forests, moors and dunes all over the Netherlands.
Near Haarlem is the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park, a sand dune area where visent was introduced in a fenced area in 2007. So far, the experiment has shown that visent is well-liked among the sand dunes – a biotope with which the species has never been associated – and that it propagates normally.
Another of these areas is the Hoge Veluwe National Park, the country’s largest privately owned nature reserve. In the forests of oak and pine, on the heaths and in the dunes, deer, deer, wild boar and forest mare thrive. In the vicinity of Hoge Veluwe, a wolf was seen in August 2011, the first in the Netherlands in over 100 years.
In 2012, about 12% of the land area and 22% of the sea area were protected in some form. The Netherlands has 20 national parks and a large number of nature reserves owned by the state or private nature conservation organizations.
||Noord-Brabant and Zuid-Holland
|Drents – Friese Wold
||Drenthe and Friesland
|Dunes of Texel
||Limburg and North Brabant
||Groningen and Friesland
|Loonse and Drunense Dunes
|Sallandse Hill Ridge
|Zoom – Kalmthoutse Heath