When you think of the Veluwe, you probably think of the beautiful forests, moors and sand drifts, in other words: of nature. But how did this nature actually originate? Below you can read all about it.
The story of the Veluwe begins about 160 thousand years ago, in the penultimate ice age, also called the Saalien. The land ice then crept so far south that it covered half of the Netherlands. North of the line Haarlem - Utrecht - Nijmegen, the world was white. This boundary did not form a straight line. Several ice tongues protruded to the south. Their weight was so great that they pushed away the soil on which they lay to the edges, raising the moraines that now form the skeleton of the Veluwe: the southern, eastern, and northwestern ridges. The Veluwe, along with the Utrecht and Nijmegen Hills, is the most intact moraine landscape in Europe. Similar areas can also be found in northern Germany, Poland, and further east, but there the ridges from the Saalien have all been bulldozed again by the land ice from the last ice age. That ice did not reach the Netherlands, which is why the Dutch moraines have remained so pristine.
The last ice age is the Weichselien and it came to an end about 11,000 years ago. The Netherlands became warmer and more humid. Lush forests grow on the land. As the sea covers large parts of the lowlands, depositing sea clay in the process, large swamp forests form about 10,000 years ago. On the southern and eastern edges, where the Rhine and IJssel rivers flow, river clay is deposited, but even here marshes form where peat develops locally. The Veluwe massif literally becomes an island in a sea of peat and river marshes. This is the landscape that the early inhabitants found and started farming. They initially chose the high and dry places to live and shunned the lowlands.
Later, arable farming and increasingly intensive sheep farming caused the forest to disappear. Heather took its place. On the loamy soils of the moraines, the heather was quite robust, but on the dry sandy soils, further overgrazing caused the sand to have free rein and the heather to overrun. A desert landscape arose as you still find it today on the Kootwijkerzand or the Beekhuizerzand. These drifting sand areas were huge at first, but now they are just shreds of the original Dutch Sahara. This is because of the pine trees that were planted to combat desertification.
All these events have caused the Veluwe to look like this today.
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