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watergoed (1999)

the 'weerribben' nature reserve is situated in the north-west of the dutch province of overijssel. it is a landscape consisting of freshwater wetlands and marshes that came into being when the practice of peat dredging ended and extends over approximately 3000 hectares. to protect this nature reserve from dehydration and to create an ecological zone linking with similar marsh areas a number of adjacent fields will be turned into new freshwater wetland nature reserves that collectively cover an area of around 600 hectares. my preliminary design is a proposal for the layout of these new nature reserves. they are emphatically intended to provide new opportunities for experiencing nature. accordingly, this new natural beauty should be made accessible to nature lovers. to a limited extent, however, since the area must not become overcrowded. an exception is made for a few small sanctuaries where the natural beauty exists purely for its own sake and that remain inaccessible to human beings, even to conservationists and scientists. i view nature as our primary reality and the experience of nature as a fundamental value. the densely populated modern country of the netherlands needs much more natural beauty than it has at the moment. the present plan leaves room for further additions in future.

in the new nature reserves the artificially controlled water level will be significantly raised to achieve a closer approximation of the natural water level of the 'weerribben'. terraces will be laid out at various heights from 1.2 metres below to 0.9 metres above water level. different vegetations will develop out of the various ecological starting points. a few spots will exceed this height and depth. in the long run this artificially laid out, culturally selected differentiation will be erased by nature itself (a more perfect situation!). some parts of the shallow wetlands will gradually rise as a result of plant deposits. in this process the water level will be raised further to an even more natural situation. after 80-to l00 years the area will probably have grown into one extensive older marsh as a result of succession.

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bibliographic references

herman de vries, 'summary', written in 1998 and published in watergoed kop van overijssel (Esselink Stichting : Zwolle/Mondriaan Stichting : Amsterdam 1999) 39.

See also:
Govert Grosfeld, 'Herman de Vries en het ontwerp voor een nieuw natuurgebied', in Open no. 4 'Kunst in het veranderende landschap' (2003) 50-55 (ill.)

"Het Watergoed", meervoudig ruimtegebruik in de vorm van een kunstwerk / Hendrik Abbing, Rudie Peeten (Grontmij Overijssel : Zwolle 2001) (ill.).