National Parks (NP)
There are twenty National Parks in the Netherlands, all invariably have beautiful landscapes, which harbour a wealth of rare or unusual plants and animals. The system of National Parks preserves a wide range of landscapes characteristic to the Netherlands, from dunes, tidal flats and stream valleys to woodland, heath and fens. Naturally, each park has its own specific animal population, among them rare bird species, deer, badgers, beavers, otters and seals.
The two oldest parks, Hoge Veluwe and Veluwezoom (website is in Dutch only), were founded by private parties. Successive ministers for Agriculture, Nature and Food quality (now called ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Food Quality) have established the remaining eighteen parks over the last twenty-five years. National Parks are areas of exceptional or outstanding natural value. A National Park must have an area of at least one thousand hectares. Policymakers treat the National Parks as a single unit, referring to it as the system of National Parks in the Netherlands. Landowners, site managers and other stakeholders are jointly responsible for the conservation and development of the quality of these nature areas. The National Parks were established with four main objectives in mind:
- The protection and development of nature and the landscape;
- Outdoor recreation;
- Education and extension;