At over 10,000 hectares, Weerribben-Wieden National Park is the largest continuous bog in Northwest Europe. A labyrinth of pools, lakes, canals, mysterious moor woods, expansive reed plots and grasslands abounding with flowers. It is a breeding ground for exceptional plant and animal species and a base for sailing, cycling, and walking visitors.
The ecological value of the National Park has international fame. It is home to species of plant and animal that depend on the bog. Water and bog plants such as water soldiers, water lilies and round-leaved sundew feel at home here, while the yellow iris, cuckoo flower and cottongrass add more colour to the landscape. The National Park houses almost the entire Dutch population of some species of animals, like the large copper butterfly and the Norfolk damselfly. Thanks to the excellent water quality, Weerribben-Wieden has been the habitat of the otter since 2002.
Weerribben-Wieden was made by human hands. A cultural landscape. From the middle of the 16th century, peat cutters started their work. The wet peat mud was dried on small strips of land, the so-called ribs. This resulted in the rectangular landscape layout of peat ponds (weren) and ribs (peat dykes) that were used to dry and transport the peat. Overintensive peat cutting led to overly narrow peat dykes that, affected by wind and waves, were washed away and turned into lakes (wieden). The Weerribben was spared this fate. After the peat cutting stopped in the 20th century, a unique nature reserve remained as the heritage of the peat cutters. The local population gradually switched to reed and grassland management.
Without active management, a large part of the Weerribben-Wieden would dry out and turn into an impenetrable bog forest. Plants and plant remains will fill the waters and form a carpet that is just passable or just impassable. Roots will tangle, water vegetation will disappear to make room for bog vegetation. Letting nature have her way will mean a severe decrease in diversity. That is why continuous human influence is necessary to safeguard the natural treasure trove of Weerribben-Wieden. Weerribben-Wieden National Park, where nature and humans go hand in hand!
Did you know that Weerribben-Wieden National Park has a special status for exceptional natural reserves in Europe? This makes it one of the 74 most important natural reserves in Europe. The Council of Europe has awarded the National Park the European Diploma of Protected Areas in the context of the Bern Convention. The variety between open water, reed- and grasslands and bog forest is highly acclaimed. This diversity is a breeding ground for exceptional plants, birds and insects. The water quality is so high that the otter has made it its habitat.
More information on Weerribben-Wieden National Park: www.np-weerribbenwieden.nl