From the pine marten to the miniature horse to the many species of orchids, the Netherlands is home to a wide range of plant and animal life -- all of it inhabiting the country's various peat bogs, woodlands and intertidal zones.
Marshlands and Peat Bogs
The Oostvaardersplassen is a large collection of marshlands and peat bogs in the Netherlands. The wetlands are home to numerous birds, such as the sedge warbler and tufted duck. Since the 1980s, the government has been trying to introduce large grazing animals -- such as red deer, miniature horses and cattle -- with some success. Plants in the Oostvaardersplassen and other marshlands, such as the Alde Feanen National Park, include reed vegetation and marsh marigolds.
Wadden and North Sea
The Wadden Sea buffers the coast of the Netherlands and is in the southeastern part of the North Sea. While parts of the Wadden Sea that are closest to the North Sea resemble that larger body of water with respect to plant and animal life, the Wadden Sea is unique in that large areas of it are exposed during low tide. Cetaceans are occasionally seen close to the Dutch shore in the North Sea, yet only sick or lost animals venture into the shallow waters near the Wadden Sea. Mussels and oysters thrive in the intertidal areas of the Wadden Sea, and these shellfish are food for a number of bird species. Plants in the intertidal dune areas include black crowberry and common sea-buckthorn.
The Drents-Friese Wold National Park contains one of the largest areas of woodland and heath in the Netherlands. The park is home to unique plants and animals in the form of the adder, alcon blue butterfly and the dwarf rattlesnake plantain of the orchid family. Another large wooded are is the Drentsche Aa National Landscape, which hosts many different species of orchids. This park is criss-crossed by a number of small streams and has many unique megalithic, or hunebed, structures.
Wooded Hills and Ridges
Between the municipalities of Holten and Hellendoorn, a range of hills called Sallandse Heuvelrug hosts Holland's higher-elevation wooded areas. The deciduous-coniferous forest that covers these hills is the only place in the Netherlands that the black grouse can be found in the wild. Another high-elevation wooded area, Utrechtse Heuvelrug National Park, is located on a ridge formed during the last ice age. This forest is home to around 100 species of birds, including the black woodpecker. The park is also home to badgers pine martens, butterflies and dragonflies.
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