April 1, 2017

Which part of the Netherlands is furthest from any building?

Filed under: Nature,Science,Sustainability by Branko Collin @ 7:26 pm

map-uninhabited-places-nl-ptityeti“I know my country is a crowded one”, starts a question on question-and-answer website Stack Exchange.

But “where in The Netherlands am I furthest away from any city or town?”

Usually these sites have lots of opinions and very little in the way of meaningful answers, but one Ptityeti decided to go the extra mile and do the research. Luckily the two datasets they needed are both open and Creative Commons licensed. Openstreetmaps provides detailed maps of the country, and the government-created BAG database contains the exact position of every building in the country.

In turns out the recent nature reserve Oostvaardersplassen (reclaimed from IJsselmeer in 1986) is the winner, beating out the Drowned Land of Saeftinghe, the Lauwersmeer and Veluwe. If you went to Oostvaardersplassen, the furthest away you could be from any building is 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles). What it basically boils down to though is that you have to hike into any of a number of former sea inlets, with Veluwe being the only place that can be considered proper land.

There were a few other conditions to the question. The place had to be on mainland Netherlands (we have a couple of uninhabited islands that would otherwise be clear winners) and couldn’t be a dike or dam, or Afsluitdijk might have won.

Ptityeti’s fascinating post details the sort of caveats one has to take into consideration if one wanted to answer a question like that. Even the question “how do I get as far away from people as I possibly can in the Netherlands?” is not answered by looking at datasets of building locations. After all, the answer to that would probably be “take the plane to Canada”. In the Netherlands, you do not get away from other people.

Illustration: Stack Exchange / Ptityeti.

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November 3, 2013

Documentary De Nieuwe Wildernis draws 400,000 visitors

Filed under: Nature by Branko Collin @ 1:33 pm

Dutch nature documentary De Nieuwe Wildernis has managed to lure 400,000 people to the cinema in just a month, Vroege Vogels wrote last Monday.

The documentary about wildlife in the Oostvaardersplassen (‘the lakes of those who sailed to the East’) was released on 26 September 2013. For feature films 400,000 visitors is considered pretty successful, but for a documentary it’s practically a miracle. As a comparison, last year Hollywood blockbuster The Hunger Games took the number 13 spot with 458,816 visitors.

Part of the attraction of Ruben Smit’s De Nieuwe Wildernis may be that there is very little original nature left in the Netherlands. Biodiversity is at an all time low in this country, the Mean Species Abundance having dropped from 40% in 1900 to 15% in 2000. The average MSA for Europe is 40%.

The nature reserve Oostvaardersplassen came about by accident. It is situated on the north end of Flevoland, the largest artificial island in the world. Originally reclaimed in 1986, the area was to be bordered by another artificial island, Markerwaard, and intended for housing business parks, but in 1986 the national government decided not to build the extra island. With businesses also staying away, nature took over. In 1986 the area was designated a national nature reserve.

See also: Searching and capturing that elusive horse wind.

(Photo: crop from the video)

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