A large part of the rural areas in The Netherlands have been transformed to agricultural land over the last centuries. In the beginning, this process was rather slow and the farmers used whatever was around to mark the edges of their land. Usually, this was done by using vegetation (hedgerows, woodbanks) or water. After the first world war, the invention of both barbed wire and fertiliser, the transformation to agriculture happened much faster and a lot of areas in The Netherlands lost their cultural identity in the process. What was left after our land reformation, was a highly fragmented countryside where plants and animals were unable to move from one natural area to the other. The Association for Dutch Cultural Landscapes strives to re-connect our natural areas through working with the farming community and creating corridors and stepping stones on farmland.
I first started working for the Association for Dutch Cultural Landscapes back in 2013 as a project assistant. This very diverse position taught me a lot about European legislation and about the ecological diversity of our cultural heritage. My work brought me to every corner of our country to document our cultural landscapes, monitor its diversity, and to see what could be done to improve the situation of highly vulnerable plant and animal species within the landscape. At the end of my first year at the organisation, I got the opportunity to go to Zambia to work with a Conservation NGO in one the southernmost shores of Lake Tanganyika which was an incredible experience that you can read about on a different page.
After half a year, I returned to my old spot at the Association for Dutch Cultural landscapes and I got more space to work on my own projects. While thinking of new ways to document our landscapes, I came up with the drone project in which we fly over our cultural landscapes to document the areas. Not only did that result in amazing footage of our diverse landscapes, it also became much easier to see where the landscapes still needed to be improved. Being close to the German border and loving species in-situ conservation, I also focused on an international otter project together with our German colleagues. Being involved in projects like these has made working for the Association for Dutch Cultural Landscapes an absolute privilege and I have learned an incredible lot about Nature Conservation in a European context.