The origins of De Veluwe

When you think about the Natural Park DE VELUWE, you’ll probably think about beautiful forests, moors and sand dunes, in other words; nature!. But how did this amazing natural environment arise? In this blogpost we’ll give you a short impression

The penultimate ice age (Saalian)

The story of the Veluwe begins about 160 thousand years ago, in the penultimate ice age, also known as the Saalian. The ice sheet crept as far to the South that covered half of the Netherlands. North of the line Haarlem – Utrecht – Nijmegen was the world white. This border wasn’t a straight line. Multiple tongues of ice stretched out to the South. Their weight was so great that they push aside the soil on which they lied and so the glacial tills raised and are what now forms the skeleton of the Veluwe: the southern, Eastern and Northwestern ridges. The Veluwe is, along with the Utrecht and Nijmegen Ridge, the most intact glacial tills landscape of Europe. Similar areas can also be found in Northern Germany, Poland and further East, but these ridges from the Saalian were all again overbulldozered by the land ice from the last ice age. That ice did not reach the Netherlands and therefore the Dutch glacial are still so wellconserved.

The Veluwe Massif is literally an island in a sea of Moor and river marshes. This is the landscape that the early residents found and are going to cultivate. They chose initially the high and dry patches of land to live out to live and avoided the lowlands.

How the forest arose

The last ice age is known as the Weichselian and this period ends 11,000 years ago. Netherlands is getting warmer and moister. Lush forests grow on the land. Because the sea covered large parts of the lowland; sea-clay deposits arise and 10,000 years ago there are large swamp forests. To the South and East edge, where the Rhine and IJssel flows, River clay deposits arise. The Veluwe Massif is literally an island in a sea of Moor and river marshes. This is the landscape that the early residents found and are going to cultivate. They chose initially the high and dry patches of land to live out to live and avoided the lowlands.

Sanddunes Landscape

Later the agricultural farming and increasingly intensive sheep farming were responsible for the disappearing of the forest, heath came instead. On the clay soils of the glacial till the Heath was pretty robust, but on the dry sandy soils further overgrazing originated and made sure the sand got free playfield and prevailed above the heath. A desert landscape was formed that you can still find on the Kootwijkerzand or Beekhuizerzand, very near Bungalowpak Het Verscholen Dorp. This drifting sand areas first were huge, but nowadays they are only snippets of the original “Dutch Sahara”. This is due to the pine trees that were planted for desertification.

All these events have ensured that the Veluwe now looks like it is now