Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Veluwe, Dutch wilderness


This postcard, which I received in the mail a few days ago, really showcases why I love Postcrossing so much. First of all, you may or may not know that I am particularly fond of postcards showing native bird species - my family is full of serious birdwatchers, and though I would only call it a casual hobby myself, I do love birds. This card displays the Common Kingfisher, a very handsome fellow that can be found all over Europe, South Asia, and North Africa.

I don't speak Dutch (I only know a few words here and there that my Dutch friends have taught me), so I wanted to know what De Veluwe meant - I thought maybe it was some sort of greeting I didn't know. To my surprise, De Veluwe is not a greeting, but a place - one of the prettiest and most beloved natural habitats in the Netherlands. I try not to jump to conclusions about any place, but I have always envisioned Holland as a very flat, open place, with not a lot trees, certainly no big forests. But apparently, that is precisely what De Veluwe is.

Wikipedia describes De Veluwe as a forest-rich ridge of hills (Hills? In Holland?) in the province
of Gelderland (Central-Eastern Netherlands). The landscape includes forest, heath, lakes, and sand drifts, deposited by glaciers some 200,000 years ago. It is one of the best places in the Netherlands to see wildlife, with some 500 species of plants and a diverse collection of animal life. De Veluwe has suffered in the past from human development, especially Dutch farming and irrigation, which has altered the water level of the area. Plans are underway to restore wetlands surrounding the forest, and there have also been attempts to reconnect sections of the park by building wildlife corridors that overpass roads, returning farmland to nature, and removing obsolete fences. Once the proper adjustments have been made to connect the separate sections of this natural area, it will be designated a national park.

All this great information, and a new place I want to visit, all from one little postcard, sitting innocently in my mailbox.

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