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Landscape and historic setting

The Agency regards the cultural landscape as the part of the Netherlands defined and shaped by human ideas and actions. In other words: all of our landscape (both above and below ground), comprising land and water, urban and rural areas. The cultural landscape links the archaeological and the built heritage, which are also part of our landscape.

Dike near DodewaardDike near Dodewaard

Landscape under pressure

The cultural landscape is under pressure due to the building of new infrastructure, modern farming methods and urbanisation. The government protects unique landscape values and attempts to enhance the quality of our landscape. Provincial and local authorities, water boards and nature management organisations take the landscape into account in implementing their spatial planning policies and fulfilling their responsibilities.

Protect or guide

Change is a typical feature of our cultural landscape. During the 300,000 years that our country has been inhabited, man’s impact on the landscape has steadily grown. We have built dikes, mined natural resources, and built roads and cities. Protecting the cultural landscape is a difficult challenge. The art lies in guiding change in such a way that the different stages in our landscape’s history remain visible. And that is where we focus our efforts.

How do we safeguard our cultural landscape?

Changes in our landscape can be guided in various ways. Historic landscapes are protected in zoning plans. Areas of national importance can be designated urban conservation areas. The provincial authorities can use the Nature Conservancy Act to protect certain views. Entire stretches of landscape can be designated National Heritage Landscapes by the government.