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World Heritage Site status aim for FochteloŽrveen

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

FOCHTELOO Ė The Friesland and Drenthe border area covering the former penal colony of Veenhuizen and the adjoining FochteloŽrveen ought to be designated a World Heritage site. That is the conclusion by the Dutch Forestry Service Staatsbosbeheer and the hugely influential Natuurmonumenten (Society for preservation of nature monuments in the Netherlands). The latter sees FochteloŽrveen as a study in contrasts with Veenhuizen. The penal colony was built in the 1820s in a vast, undisturbed and isolated heathland where the homeless and destitute of Dutch society, in the aftermath of the disastrous Napolonic era, would be given a chance to reintegrate by having a strictly structured life in an institutional setting. In Veenhuizen they were far removed from 'neighbouring' villages. FochteloŽrveen is the last remaining expansive Dutch peatbog. Not all of the 2,500 hectares is a virgin peatbog, owner Natuurmonumenten has helped to return it to 'nature' by removing the influences of modern agriculture from the area as well. One of the biggest threats to FochteloŽrveen is lack of moisture which could stagnate its peat bog maturing process.