For centuries now, there has been a special relationship between the Dutch and the water. The polders that have been reclaimed from the sea are world famous, but the storm surge barriers are at least as extraordinary. The Delta Works and Afsluitdijk, for instance, which the Dutch built to protect them from the water.

They built Holland as we know it today with great knowledge and perseverance. As a result, Holland is internationally renowned as the world’s laboratory in terms of water management.

Trial garden

Testing was indispensable to obtain the required knowledge. The Waterloopkundig Laboratorium, a hydrological laboratory, was established in Noordoostpolder after WWII, in the pre-computer age. Because of its low-lying situation, water could be guided into and out of large-scale trial models without pumps. Concrete basins were used to research wave motion and build scale models of locks, harbors, and pieces of river.

Through the years, the Waterloopbos has lost its original function. Fortunately, the forest was preserved and is now being managed by Natuurmonumenten (the Dutch Nature Preservation Society). In 2016, the forest was even put on the National Monuments List.

The remains of the hydrological models remain, but nature has had her way. Mosses, plants and trees are slowly covering over the sites that were once so valuable. You can hear water flow everywhere and special plants and animals can be found along the river banks. In fall, there are thousands of mushrooms. These elements all serve to give the Waterloopbos its fairytale ambiance.