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Friesland covers an area of 5 748 square kilometers, making it the largest province of The Netherlands. Therefore it’s not surprising that the landscape of this province has a great diversity. This diversity stems mainly from the different soil types that are present in the province.
If you take a close look at a map of Friesland, you’ll see that nearly all the lakes are on one line between Stavoren and Burgum. This line marks the division of the various soil types. The lakes were created either through subsidence of the peat bogs or through the excavation of peat for fuel.
Friesland can be divided into the following soil types; sandy soil in the east, peat in the middle (see also the lakes), and clay in the west and along the north coast. Because of these differences the following types of natural landscape occur:
Pink to purple-colored moorlands are a characteristic landscape of northwest Europe. In the 19th century, rolling moorlands covered the higher and poorer quality sandy soils in The Netherlands. It was rough land with major economic significance; large herds of sheep grazed there and produced not only wool and meat, but also manure for crops. With the introduction of fertilizer, the moors gradually disappeared. It Fryske Gea still manages some of the remaining heathlands in Friesland, with the intention of preserving them for the future. These are; de Liphústerheide, de Kapellepôle, de Delleboersterheide, de Bakkefeansterdunen and the Heide fan Allardseach in the Mandefjild, the Schaopedobbe and the Ketlikerheide and the heather at the Ketliker Skar.
The Wadden Sea region is one of the few natural landscapes of the Netherlands. It is a “creation” of the sea, which provides materials and structures. The Wadden Sea area has a varied soil composition and highly variable environmental conditions, with a unique flora. There are typical marshland fauna, such as soil-dwelling worms, shellfish and crustaceans. It is also a breeding ground for various species of fish. The large quantity of these animals attracts many birds. The Wadden Sea region is on the migration route for birds between Africa and northern Scandinavia and is as a resting and foraging area for birds of great international importance.
There are some bogs on the peaty soils in the ‘Lage Midden van Friesland’, between Dokkum and Stavoren,. These low-lying wet areas developed naturally because they were unprofitable for agricultural use. This has made the peat bogs very rich and varied nature areas, home to many species. They are therefore of great importance for nature and science and now, thanks to the presence of nature and water, for recreation as well. It Fryske Gea manages a number of these low bogs, including the De Alde Feanen National Park near Earnewâld, the largest natural landscape of Friesland. There are also several other wetland areas managed by It Fryske Gea; Buten Fjild, Petgatten The Feanhoop, Unlân Allen fan and Kobbelân, Lende Valley, Easterskar, Ychtenerfeanpolder, Teroelster Sipen and Banco Polder.
Grasslands are the most common type of landscape in Friesland. In the past, depending on environmental conditions, different types of grassland have been created where groundwater level and the nutrients have been significant factors. With agricultural management wet, dry, poor and rich grasslands have adapted to these conditions. Each type of grassland had its own distinctive communities and species. Because of modern agricultural techniques, much of the diversity in grasslands has disappeared. It Fryske Gea manages the remaining original grasslands in Friesland. These are the Eanjumer Kolken, Grutte Wheels, Polders Koarnwert and Makkumersúdmar, Warkumerbinnenwaard, Aeltsje and Warkumermar, Mûntsebuorsterpolder, the mature Sypset, Dune and Follegeasterpolder, Sudermarpolder, Huitebuersterbûtenpolder and around the Alde Feanen.
Thousands of years ago Friesland was covered with vast forests. These were mainly on what we now know as the peat and sandy soils. That’s where, for example, the name De Friese Wouden comes from. These forests eventually disappeared because of climate change and human activity. From the middle of the 19th century new forests have been created, but with a forest area of approximately 9 500 hectares, Friesland is still relatively treeless. Therefore “It Fryske Gea” is committed to maintaining and expanding its woodlands.
Duck Decoys have been a typical part of the Frisian countryside for centuries. In the Roman period duck hunting was popular and its popularity remained, particularly throughout the 15th and 16th century when Friesland had dozens of decoys all over the province. In the 18th and 19th century, because of reduced catches, its popularity declined. Decoys disappeared or fell into disrepair. It Fryske Gea has eight of the remaining managed decoys; the two Van Asperen einekoaien in Eanjumer chambers, and the Buismanskoai Gytsjerk Kobbekoai in the Casteleinskoai and Mulderskoai in Lytse Geast, Van Asperen einekoai in Alde Mieden and Buismanskoai at Piaam. Decoys are used today for catching ducks for research purposes; to monitor bird ‘flu and to ring birds to monitor their movements.
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