De Oostvaardersplassen

Quick facts

  • European Diploma of Protected Areas (code NL940003)
  • Since 1999
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Administrative region: Not available
  • Surface area: 56 km2 (5600.00 ha)
  • Marine area: Not available

Source and more information: Council of Europe


Site contact authorities

Manager Staatsbosbeheer Postbus 1300 NL-3970 BH Driebergen Tel.: + Fax.: +
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General character of the site The nature reserve 'De Oostvaardersplassen' is an extensive marshland area with large landscape variations: from reed marshes to swamp forests and frorn grasslands to open water. The area is of great importance to all birdlife. Both, breeding birds, migratory birds and wintering birds are observed. The natural site is situated in the newest polder of the IJsselmeer area, Zuidelijk Flevoland, in the middie of what was once the Zuiderzee. The site lies about four metres below sea level. Since the first reclamation activities, the area has undergone a natural development. The land was never cultivated for agricultural or urban purposes as the rest of Zuidelijk Flevoland. A varied plantlife, shawing all the signs of a pioneer vegetation, developed on the clayey former seabed, now wholly or partially free of water. The variegation of open water and covered higher ground attract all sorts of vegetation and thus also all sorts of birds and other animals. Most remarkable is the large nurnber of breeding birds in spring and summer, and moulting and wintering birds in autumn and winter. The area is internationally acclaimed as "Wetland" and also as "Special Protected Area" (EC Bird Directive). Special facilities for the public have been constructed in the eastern part of the area, for example bird observation huts, signposted walking trails, observation sites and a visitors centre. In a few years, a Nature Activities Centre will be added to the facilities here. On 1 January 1996, the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management (specifically, Public Works Department for the IJsselmeer area) permanently transferred its interim management responsibility for the Protected Area to Staatsbosbeheer, the National Forest Service of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries. 
Owner State owned 100 % 
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Cultural heritage In 1932, construction of the dyke separating the Zuiderzee from the North Sea, the Afsluitdijk, was completed. The Zuiderzee slowly became a freshwater lake, the ]Jsselmeer. The bed of the IJsselmeer was clayey. Phased land reclamation activities resulted in three new polders that together form the province of Flevoland. As soon as the water in the youngest polder, Zuidelijk Flevoland (43 000 ha), was pumped away in 1968, reed was sown by airplane in the entire area, including what is now known as 'De Oostvaardersplassen'. The extensive reed lands dominated the landscape the first years. However, a single stretch along the Oostvaardersdijk, being the lowest part of the new polder, remained more or less submerged. Considered too much trouble, the area was temporarily spared from further reclamation activities. When engineers set about digging ditches and canals for drainage in this part of the polder in 1972, the marshland had already evolved into an internationally acclaimed bird sanctuary.By the end of 1974, the area was designated as a "temporary nature area", a status which provisionally saved it from further development. In 1975, an embankment was constructed around the marshland (3 600 ha) to confine the water in the area. An additional 1200 ha outside the ernbankment was added to the area as it had become clear that geese could not function weil without dry grazing land nearby.In 1982, nature conservation organisations successfully lobbied the Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management to move the planned railway line Almere-Lelystad 1.5 kilometres to the east where it passed 'De Oostvaardersplassen'. This allowed for an expansion of the area outside the embankment by 800 ha; the nature area thus came to its current size of 5 600 ha. The new section of the railroad became its nickname 'trace of the bath-tub' 
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European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100