Where the trees grow on the seabed

Jaap Kloosterhuis

Jaap Kloosterhuis used to talk about the natural world in front of a blackboard, which he has now replaced with a more lively backdrop. Today, as a forester he shares his amazement about the countryside in the Lauwersmeer National Park; a stunning scenic area where orchids add colour, and birds movement, to his story.

‘Bird-watchers from all over the world are drawn here. They know that the Lauwersmeer is in the list of internationally important areas, such as the Camargue and Baie de Somme. One of the best things of my work with the Forestry Commission is that I sometimes see amazement grow in people who are not that into nature. Sometimes you see a fallen tree with a rootball and closed cockles in the soil. In 1969, this area was closed off from the sea and fresh water came in, leaving cockles in the ground. As a result of the change of salt water into fresh, you can still find grass of Parnassus, evergreens and the most beautiful orchids in this transitional area on the former sandbar.’

In the heart of the area are three islands, in the harbours of which you can moor your boat and spend the night under the dark starry sky in the middle of nature. The Lauwersmeer National Park was proclaimed a Dark Sky Park, where nature fans can experience the fragrances, sounds and wonderful dark skies.

‘After the breeding season and before the dormant winter period, I go on excursions in this area on behalf of the Forestry Commission. There are 5-hour trips, as well as shorter excursions of 90 minutes. Walking through reeds 2 metres high is an almost surreal experience.’

A good place to start an adventure in the Lauwersmeer National Park is the Staatsbosbeheer activities centre: the Bosschuur.

Walking through reeds 2 metres high is an almost surreal experience.’

- Jaap Kloosterhuis

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