Most people probably won’t notice it very quickly, but in the near future, entrance signs at many nature reserves will be replaced. There is an extra rule: one that raises some questions at first.
‘Permission is required for organized (commercial) activities’, has recently been stated at the entrance to the nature reserves of Staatsbosbeheer in Almere.
This new rule will soon also apply in other places in the Netherlands, after inquiries with Staatsbosbeheer. “We are in the process of introducing it into the busy areas,” said a spokesman. “A yoga class at the same time in an area with dog walking services is not what you want.”
In some places in West Brabant, the Veluwe and Utrecht, the rule has been in place for a while. Apparently measures are needed in more places. What is going on? And which activities are actually involved?
Amy Zeeman is a forest ranger in Almere. She wrote earlier this week a blog about the new measures, which took effect on October 1. Activities are fine, she wrote, “but they should not disturb nature and other visitors and they are now.”
The bustle in the woods plays an important role, Zeeman explains on the phone. “The crowds have already increased, but due to corona. People have to stay at home and want to get some fresh air. Of course, that is best done in a nature reserve.”
The only problem is: those people are getting in each other’s way more and more. Riders, mountain bikers, hikers, dog owners, all groups who want to make use of the woods. “We also welcome those groups. That is why we build hiking trails and organize canoe routes. But all those groups should not get in each other’s way. Then we no longer have an overview. Then we no longer know what is happening.”
‘Ten dogs can be intimidating’
She cites an example: someone walking his dog and suddenly sees ten other dogs coming towards him from a dog walking service. “That can be intimidating. Visitors share these kinds of experiences with us.”
Anyone who has a dog walking service and from now on is entering the Almere forests must request written permission from Staatsbosbeheer. This will soon apply to all of Flevoland. Requesting permission must be done two weeks in advance.
‘A yoga group claims space’
“It is also about activities that take up a certain space that may bother other visitors,” explains Zeeman. If a psychologist wants to take a walk with a client, and they walk neatly along the footpath, the forester thinks that is ‘fine’. “But if you sit somewhere as a yoga group every Saturday morning, you claim a certain space.” And that means: register first.
Can such a registration also be rejected? “There is a chance,” says Zeemand. “Then we say: it will not be this preferred location, but this one will. Then we come up with other suggestions.”
If you do not register in advance, you risk a fine of 95 euros, excluding administration costs.
Natuurmonumenten is also placing new signs
Natuurmonumenten also sees an increase in the number of visitors and asks groups to register in advance. “We are working on adding an extra line on the signs in our areas,” said spokesman Marjolein Koek. “We are in line with Staatsbosbeheer in this. Then that is clear to the visitors. Sometimes we say: it will be too much. Now it is not possible.”
Both organizations can request a financial contribution. In practice, this mainly happens with commercial activities, such as a dog walking service. “If money is earned from our areas, we ask a small fee for it,” says Koek.
People who organize an excursion and earn money from it are also asked to make a payment.
‘People are probably not happy about it’
And that yoga teacher who gives completely corona-proof outdoor lessons can also draw his wallet. “They normally rent a room. So in that sense it makes sense. There are probably people who are not happy with that, but it is also good to make people aware that the maintenance of those nature reserves is also not free. . “
In Almere, the rule has only just started. There has been ‘very mixed’ reaction to her blog, says forester Zeeman. People did not fully understand when exactly you had to register. “We say, if it’s not clear, talk to us. People think it’s a negative thing. It’s money beating. It’s not. The money won’t go into our own pockets.”