National parks

There are twenty national parks in the Netherlands. All of the unique qualities of Dutch nature are found in these parks, from dunes, forests and heath lands to peat bogs, tidal waters, creek valleys and natural pools. The parks are also home to a wide range of animals, including unique bird species, butterflies, reptiles and amphibians, red deer, badgers, beavers, otters and seals. The national parks cover a total of 120,000 hectares, equivalent to nearly 3% of the national territory of the Netherlands.

What is a national park?

The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries is responsible for the functioning of the Dutch National Park System and the country’s nature policy. The national parks are a selection of areas within the Netherlands with unique flora and fauna. These areas are connected and together have a surface area of at least one thousand hectares. The national park system is designed to protect and develop nature and landscapes, nature-based recreation, education, information and research.

Nature-based recreation

All national parks in the Netherlands are open to the public. Nature-based recreation is promoted extensively and, in keeping with this, the parks offer various walking and cycling paths, canoe routes, observation huts, vantage points, benches, signposts, recreational maps and information panels. Most of the national parks have a walking route designed for disabled visitors. A visit to one of the national parks can be arranged privately or as part of a guided excursion.

List of national parks

The twenty national parks in the Netherlands are: Schiermonnikoog (Friesland), Lauwersmeer (Groningen/Friesland), De Alde Feanen (Friesland), Drents-Friese Wold (Drenthe/Friesland), Drentsche Aa (Drenthe), Dwingeldeveld (Drenthe), De Weerribben-Wieden (Overijssel), Sallandse Heuvelrug (Overijssel), Utrechtse Heuvelrug (Utrecht), Duinen van Texel (Noord-Holland), Zuid-Kennemerland (Noord-Holland), Oosterschelde (Zeeland), De Zoom-Kalmhoutse Heide (Noord-Brabant/België), De Biesbosch (Noord-Brabant/Zuid-Holland), De Loonse en Drunense Duinen (Noord-Brabant/Zuid-Holland), De Grote Peel (Limburg/Noord-Brabant), De Meinweg (Limburg), De Maasduinen (Limburg), Veluwezoom (Gelderland) and De Hoge Veluwe (Gelderland).

In September 2009, the Weerribben-Wieden national park received certification for sustainable tourism in protected areas, the first national park to receive this designation.