At the end of every cold winter there is a debate in the Netherlands on whether the forestry service should feed the oxes, horses and deers grazing the Dutch nature resorts. The official policy of the Dutch forestry service is to let the ecosystem manage itself, which causes the weaker animals – 24% of the population – to parish because of lack of food: a sight too natural for most ‘nature’ lovers.
In response to the protests, the initiators of the Dutch ‘hands-off’ landscape management argue that the protests of hikers, bikers and other tourists merely exemplify how alienated people have become from nature. However, are the premises of these policy makers really valid? Is it defendable to leave the animals in the hands of the elements or is this game getting out of hand?
Recreation in the Netherlands: Tourist meets Highland Cow (image: P. Villerius)
RECREATING A PREHISTORIC LANDSCAPE
Since the last few decades the policy for nature resorts in the Netherlands has been geared at regenerating the original landscape, as it existed in prehistoric times. In practice this means that land is gained from the ocean or bought from farmers and transformed into the landscape we think existed 8.000 years ago, long before man placed its footprint on it.
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