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In the 21st century, there has been increasing use of the Internet to gather and retrieve data. This indicates a 60 per cent success rate, less than stipulated. The subject is generally unposed and the shot unplanned, taken unobtrusively with an unhidden camera by a person immersed in an event that is often private, involving people in close relation to each other or engaged in unrehearsed activity. Several cities, such as Recife, Fortaleza and Natal even host Carnaval at other times of year. This authoritative, much-cited work is now updated with new photos and illustrations, a new introduction, and new text covering the part twenty years.
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You'll also find hot off the press new releases and children's book bestsellers on uzafifirived.tk with a select range of children's e-books and audio books for kids. Items 1 - 20 English (); Spanish (); Afrikaans (); Italian (); Finnish ( ); Zulu (); Xhosa (); Tswana (); Portuguese (); Pedi.
Helander Ed. North-Holland: Elsevier Science Publishers. Eisenberg, M. Relevance: The Search for a Definition. Social Science Information Studies, 4 , Theory and Explanation in Information Retrieval Research. Journal of Information Science, 8 1 , Froehlich, T. Relevance and the Relevance of Social Epistemology. Gluck, M. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 46 6 , Harman, D. Harmon, G. Paper presented at the The Information Concious Society.
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Journal of the American Society of Information Science, 45 3 , Library Quarterly, 56 4 , Tague, J. Tenopir, C. Full Text Database Retrieval Performance. Online Review, 9 2 , Treu, S. Vakkari, P. Journal of Documentation, 56 5 , Part III. Browsing, Clustering, and Query Expansion. Program, 22 1 , Online Review, 12 2 , Journal of Chemical Information and Computer Sciences [reprint], 26 , Situational Relevance. Wormell, I. International Forum on Information and Documentation, 8 , Zadeh, L. Fuzzy Probabilities. Allen, B.
Cognitive Abilities and Information System Usability. Berrypicking Search: User Interface Design. Dillon Ed. Westport, Conn. Online Review, 13 , Another Information System Fails--Why? Los Angeles Times, pp. Expert Systems with Applications, 9 3 , User Interfaces for Information Systems. Journal of Information Science, 17 6 , Bergman, R. The late 18th century and most of the 19th century produced little of note, save for the landscapes and seascapes of Johan Barthold Jongkind —91 and the gritty, almost photographic Amsterdam scenes of George Hendrik Breitner — They appear to have inspired French Impressionists, many of whom visited Amsterdam.
Jongkind and Breitner reinvented 17th-century realism and influenced the Hague School of the last decades of the 19th century. Without a doubt, the greatest 19th-century Dutch painter was Vincent van Gogh —90 , whose convulsive patterns and furious colours were in a world of their own and still defy comfortable categorisation. A post-Impressionist?
A forerunner of expressionism? While the Dutch Masters were known for their dark, brooding paintings, it was Van Gogh who created an identity of suffering as an art form, with a morbid style all his own. Even today, he epitomises the epic struggle of the artist: the wrenching poverty; the lack of public acclaim; the reliance upon a patron — in this case his faithful brother, Theo; the mental instability; the untimely death by suicide. And of course, one of the most iconic images of an artist's self-destruction, the severed ear.
But his short life continues to influence art to this day. Born in Zundert in , he lived in Paris with his younger brother Theo, an art dealer, who financially supported him from his modest income. Van Gogh moved south to Arles, Provence, in Revelling in its intense light and bright colours, he painted sunflowers, irises and other vivid subjects with a burning fervour. Their differing artistic approaches — Gauguin believed in painting from imagination; Van Gogh painting what he saw — and their artistic temperaments, fuelled by absinthe, came to a head with the argument that led to Van Gogh lopping his ear which he gave to a sex-worker acquaintance and his subsequent committal in Arles.
While there, Theo sent him a positive French newspaper critique of his work. On 16 May Van Gogh moved to Auvers-sur-Oise, just outside Paris, to be closer to Theo, but on 27 July that year he shot himself, possibly to avoid further financial burden on his brother, whose wife had just had a baby son, named Vincent, and who was also supporting their ailing mother.
Van Gogh died two days later with Theo at his side. Theo subsequently had a breakdown, was also committed, and succumbed to physical illness. He died, aged 33, just six months after Van Gogh. Accounting for inflation, it's still the highest price paid at a public auction for art to this day. De Stijl The Style , also known as neoplasticism, was a Dutch design movement that aimed to harmonise all the arts by bringing artistic expressions back to their essence.
Its advocate was the magazine of the same name, first published in by Theo van Doesburg — Van Doesburg produced similar rectangular patterns to Piet Mondrian's, though he dispensed with the thick, black lines and later tilted his rectangles at 45 degrees, departures serious enough for Mondrian to call off the friendship. Throughout the s and s, De Stijl attracted sculptors, poets, architects and designers.
One of these was Gerrit Rietveld — , designer of the Van Gogh Museum and several other buildings, but best known internationally for his furniture, such as the Red Blue Chair and his range of uncomfortable zigzag seats, which, viewed side-on, formed a 'z' with a backrest. After flirting with Cubism, he began working with bold rectangular patterns, using only the three primary colours yellow, blue and red set against the three neutrals white, grey and black.
He named this style neoplasticism and viewed it as an undistorted expression of reality in pure form and pure colour. His composition in red, black, blue, yellow and grey Composition No II , in Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum , is an elaborate example. Mondrian's later works were more stark or 'pure' and became dynamic again when he moved to New York in The world's largest collection of his paintings resides in the Gemeentemuseum Municipal Museum in his native Den Haag. One of the most remarkable graphic artists of the 20th century was Maurits Cornelis Escher — His drawings, lithos and woodcuts of blatantly impossible images continue to fascinate mathematicians: a waterfall feeds itself; people go up and down a staircase that ends where it starts; a pair of hands draw each other.
Admire Escher-inspired street art on paths and squares in Groningen, where he was born. After WWII, artists rebelled against artistic conventions and vented their rage in abstract expressionism. It's been called the last great avant-garde movement. Their first major exhibition, in the Stedelijk Museum in , aroused a storm of protest with comments such as 'my child paints like that too'.
Still, the CoBrA artists exerted a strong influence in their respective countries, even after they disbanded in Modern Dutch artists are usually well represented at international events and are known for mixing mediums. Harma Heikens b ; www. Amsterdam-born Michael Raedecker b creates dreamy, radiant still lifes at his UK-based studio, often incorporating embroidery in his textured paintings. In he was nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize. Anouk Kruithof b works with photography to create social projects such as Happy Birthday To You , a book featuring the birthday wishes — to smoke a birthday joint in Utrecht, to throw a big party with a live band and herring on toast for the guests — of 10 patients in a psychiatric hospital.
On the streets of Amsterdam, look out for the stunning tape art of urban street artist Max Zorn b ; www. Otherwise, hotfoot it to Amsterdam Noord to possibly the single-most fertile spot for street art in the entire country: the former shipyards-turned-alternative art collective NDSM-werf , appropriately adorned with a dazzling, 24m-high portrait of Anne Frank by world-class Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra on part of its gargantuan facade.
Rotterdam Museum Boijmans van Beuningen. The museum occupies a space that Hals knew well; while he never lived in the almshouse contrary to popular belief , in the s he and his family lived in Groot Heiligland, the street where the Old Men's Almshouse stood. If you like Dutch classical music, start with pianist Ronald Brautigam, who has gained international acclaim.
Violinist-violist Isabelle van Keulen has her own tango nuevo quartet, the Isabelle van Keulen Ensemble. A new Rembrandt was 'discovered' in when leading expert Ernst van de Wetering verified its origin and claimed it was one of a pair from The Girl with a Pearl Earring, a dramatised account of the painting of Vermeer's famous work, is a highly readable novel by Tracy Chevalier.
It was made into a film in , which was nominated for three Academy Awards. Vincent Van Gogh: The Letters contains all letters to and from Van Gogh to his brother, friends, lovers, confidantes and fellow artists. It's a moving window into his inner life, plus a testimony to the extraordinary friendship and artistic connection he shared with his brother, Theo.
Van Gogh produced an astonishing output of art during his year artistic career, of which paintings and almost drawings and prints have survived. The Dutch jazz scene has produced some mainstream artists in recent years. The titanic, plus-page book opens and closes in Amsterdam. Watch for the film adaptation in , starring Ansel Elgort and Finn Wolfhard. The Dutch are masters of architecture and use of space, but this is nothing new. Through the ages, few countries have exerted more influence on the discipline of art and construction than the Netherlands.
From the original sober cathedrals to the sleek modern structures, their ideas and designs have spread throughout Europe and beyond. You may not find any bombastic statements such as St Peter's cathedral or the Louvre, but then again, ostentation was never in keeping with the Dutch character. Romanesque architecture, which took Europe by storm between and , is the earliest architectural style remaining in the country, if you discount the hunebedden chamber tombs.
Its main characteristics are an uncomplicated form, thick walls, small windows and round arches. The oldest church of this style in the Netherlands is Pieterskerk in Utrecht. Built in , it's one of five churches that form a cross in the city, with the cathedral at its centre. Runner-up is Nijmegen's sided Sint Nicolaaskapel, which is basically a scaled-down copy of Charlemagne's chapel in Aachen, Germany. The Netherlands' countryside is also brimming with this style of architecture. The windy plains of the north are filled with examples of sturdy brick churches erected in the 12th and 13th centuries, such as the lonely church perched on a ma-made hill in Hegebeintum, Friesland.
By around the love affair with Romanesque was over, and the Gothic era was ushered in. Pointed arches, ribbed vaulting and dizzying heights were trademarks of this new architectural style, which was to last until Although the Dutch buildings didn't match the size of the French Gothic cathedrals, a rich style emerged in Catholic Brabant that could compete with anything abroad. Both are good examples of the Brabant Gothic style, as it was later known. You'll notice timber vaulting and the widespread use of brick among the stone.
Stone is normally a constant fixture of Gothic buildings, but in the marshy lands of the western Netherlands it was too heavy and too scarce to use. The basic ingredients of bricks — clay and sand — were in abundance, however. Still, bricks are not exactly light material, and weight limits forced architects to build long or wide to compensate for the lack of height.
The Sint Janskerk in Gouda is the longest church in the country, with a nave of m, and it has the delicate, stately feel of a variant called Flamboyant Gothic. From the middle of the 16th century the Renaissance style that was sweeping through Italy steadily began to filter into the Netherlands. The Dutch naturally put their own spin on this new architectural design, which came to be known as mannerism c — Also known as Dutch Renaissance, this unique style falls somewhere between Renaissance and baroque; it retained the bold curving forms and rich ornamentation of baroque but merged them with classical Greek and Roman and traditional Dutch styles.
Building facades were accentuated with mock columns pilasters and the simple spout gables were replaced with step gables that were richly decorated with sculptures, columns and obelisks. The playful interaction of red brick and horizontal bands of white or yellow sandstone was based on mathematical formulas designed to please the eye. Hendrik de Keyser — was the champion of mannerism. His Zuiderkerk , Noorderkerk and Westerkerk in Amsterdam are standout examples; all three show a major break from the sober, stolid lines of brick churches located out in the sticks.
Their steeples are ornate and built with a variety of contrasting materials, while the windows are framed in white stone set off by brown brick. Florid details enliven the walls and roof lines. After the Netherlands became a world trading power in the 17th century, its rich merchants wanted to splash out on lavish buildings that proclaimed their status. More than anything, the new architecture had to impress. The leading lights in the architectural field, such as Jacob van Campen — and the brothers Philips and Justus Vingboons, again turned to ancient Greek and Roman designs for ideas.
To make buildings look taller, the step gable was replaced by a neck gable, and pilasters were built to look like imperial columns, complete with pedestals. Decorative scrolls were added as finishing flourishes, and the peak wore a triangle or globe to simulate a temple roof. A wonderful example of this is the Koninklijk Paleis Royal Palace in Amsterdam, originally built as the town hall in Van Campen, the architect, drew on classical designs and dropped many of De Keyser's playful decorations, and the resulting building exuded gravity with its solid lines and shape.
This new form of architecture suited the city's businessmen, who needed to let the world know that they were successful. As red sports cars were still centuries away, canal houses became showpieces. Despite the narrow plots, each building from this time makes a statement at gable level through sculpture and myriad shapes and forms. Philips and Justus Vingboons were specialists in these swanky residences; their most famous works include the Bijbels Museum Biblical Museum and houses scattered throughout Amsterdam's western canal belt.
The capital is not the only city to display such grand architecture. Den Haag has 17th-century showpieces, including the Paleis Noordeinde and the Mauritshuis , and scores of other examples line the picture-perfect canals of Leiden, Delft and Maastricht, to name but a few. By the 18th century the wealthy classes had turned their backs on trade for more staid lives in banking or finance, which meant a lot of time at home.
Around the same time, Dutch architects began deferring to all things French which reflected French domination of the country ; dainty Louis XV furnishings and florid rococo facades became all the rage. It was then a perfect time for new French building trends to sweep the country. Daniel Marot — , together with his assistants Jean and Anthony Coulon, was the first to introduce French interior design with matching exteriors. Good examples of their work can be found along the Lange Voorhout in Den Haag.
Architecture took a back seat during the Napoleonic Wars in the late 18th century. Buildings still needed to be built, of course, so designers dug deep into ancient Greek and Roman blueprints once more and eventually came up with neoclassicism c — Known for its order, symmetry and simplicity, neoclassical design became the mainstay for houses of worship, courtyards and other official buildings.
A shining example of neoclassicism is Groningen's town hall; of particular note are the classical pillars, although the use of brick walls is a purely Dutch accent. Many a church was subsidised by the government water ministry and so was named a Waterstaatkerk state water church , such as the lonely house of worship in Schokland. From the s onwards, many of the country's large architectural projects siphoned as much as they could from the Gothic era, creating neo-Gothic.
Soon afterwards, freedom of religion was declared and Catholics were allowed to build new churches in Protestant areas. Neo-Gothic suited the Catholics just fine as it recalled their own glory days, and a boom in church-building took place. Nationwide, nostalgia for the perceived glory days of the Golden Age inspired neo-Renaissance, which drew heavily on De Keyser's earlier masterpieces.
Neo-Renaissance buildings were erected throughout the country, made to look like well-polished veterans from three centuries earlier. For many observers, these stepped-gable edifices with alternating stone and brick are the epitome of classic Dutch architecture. One of the leading architects of this period was Pierre Cuypers — , who built several neo-Gothic churches but often merged the style with neo-Renaissance, as can be seen in Amsterdam's Centraal Station and Rijksmuseum. These are predominantly Gothic structures but have touches of Dutch Renaissance brickwork. As the 20th century approached, the neo styles and their reliance on the past were strongly criticised by Hendrik Petrus Berlage — , the father of modern Dutch architecture.
He favoured spartan, practical designs over frivolous ornamentation; Amsterdam's Beurs van Berlage displays these ideals to the full. Berlage cooperated with sculptors, painters and tilers to ensure that ornamentation was integrated into the overall design in a supportive role, rather than being tacked on as an embellishment to hide the structure. The Gemeentemuseum in Den Haag, Berlage's last major work, was an even more ambitious expression of his principles. Berlage's residential designs approached a block of buildings as a whole, not as a collection of individual houses.
In this he influenced the young architects of what became known as the Amsterdam School, though they rejected his stark rationalism and preferred more creative designs. Leading exponents were Michel de Klerk — , Piet Kramer — and Johan van der Mey — ; the latter ushered in the Amsterdam School c —30 with his extraordinary Scheepvaarthuis , formerly the headquarters of several shipping firms, now a hotel. Brick was the material of choice for such architects, and housing blocks were treated as sculptures, with curved corners, oddly placed windows and ornamental, rocket-shaped towers.
Their Amsterdam housing estates, such as De Klerk's 'Ship' in the west, have been described as fairy-tale fortresses rendered in a Dutch version of art deco. Their preference for form over function meant their designs were great to look at but not always fantastic to live in, with small windows and inefficient use of space. Housing subsidies sparked a frenzy of residential building activity in the s.
At the time, many architects of the Amsterdam School worked for the Amsterdam city council and designed the buildings for the Oud Zuid Old South. This large-scale expansion — mapped out by Berlage — called for good-quality housing, wide boulevards and cosy squares. While Amsterdam School—type buildings were being erected all over their namesake city, a new generation of architects began to rebel against the school's impractical not to mention expensive structures. It was the first stirring of functionalism — Architects such as Ben Merkelbach —61 and Gerrit Rietveld — believed that form should follow function and sang the praises of steel, glass and concrete.
After the war, functionalism came to the fore and stamped its authority on new suburbs to the west and south of Amsterdam, as well as war-damaged cities such as Rotterdam. High-rise suburbs were built on a large scale yet weren't sufficient to keep up with the population boom and urbanisation of Dutch life. But functionalism fell from favour as the smart design aspects were watered down in low-cost housing projects for the masses. Construction has been booming in the Netherlands since the s, and architects have had ample opportunity to flirt with numerous 'isms' such as structuralism, neorationalism, postmodernism and neomodernism.
Evidence of these styles can be found in Rotterdam, an architectural world hub where city planners have encouraged bold designs that range from Piet Blom's startling cube-shaped Boompjestorens to Ben van Berkel's graceful Erasmusbrug. In fact the whole city is a modern architectural showcase where new 'exhibits' are erected all the time. The current tallest building in the country, the MaasToren, tops out at m, but is set to be dwarfed by the m-tall Zalmhaventoren in The planned residential tower, accompanied by two shorter towers, will function as a 'vertical city' with homes and accompanying facilities.
A short distance away, a trio of transparent towers called De Rotterdam were designed — ingeniously to be viewed in motion by passing cars — by Rotterdam's very own Rem Koolhaas b One of the world's most influential architects, his firm, OMA, is a breeding ground for a whole new generation of architects. Its current work on the construction of a new stadium at Nieuwe Maas for the city's football team, to be built partly on water, is expected to kickstart the revitalisation of the entire Feyenoord City wedge of Rotterdam riverside.
Other striking examples of bold new architecture can be admired throughout the Netherlands, often combining symbolic references with a sense of play. Near Den Bosch, the Haverleij residential complex reimagines a medieval landscape, with 10 moat-ringed communities, each with its own castle, sharing green pasturelands. In Breda, a surreal copper-plated blob forms an acoustically calibrated dome for the Mezz pop-music hall. In Zwolle, a UFO faced with reflective blue tiles appears to have landed on the rooftop of the stodgy neoclassical Museum De Fundatie , shaking up the academy as it were.
At Utrecht's TivoliVredenburg music centre, four venues each for a different musical style hover around and above the original symphony hall like sections in a record store. The new Forum cultural centre of Groningen, slated for completion in , rises like a great pyramid off the main square.
Much of the ground for experimentation is provided by zones or structures whose functions have changed, declined or been abandoned. Throughout the country are numerous fascinating examples of urban transformation and creative building reuse — a sustainable alternative to demolition. As their devotional function goes by the wayside, churches in Zwolle and Maastricht have been reborn as bookstores and a posh hotel.
In Eindhoven, the sprawling industrial park of the Philips electronics firm has been retrofitted for creative talent, with an events centre, concert hall, hostel and skateboard park, collectively known as the Strijp-S. At the NDSM shipyard in North Amsterdam, the former welding hangar now houses art and film studios, old shipping containers are student housing units and the crane track Kranspoor became the base for an elongated office building. The shores along Amsterdam's IJ River are a good place to see the vaunted Dutch traditions of urban design in action.
Northwest of Centraal Station, there's a flurry of construction in the Houthaven 'lumber port' area, whose seven artificial islands are rising from the ashes as a new residential hub. One of the most striking sites in the area is the REM Eiland , a 22m-high former pirate-broadcasting rig now housing a restaurant and bar. To the east, the burgeoning IJburg neighbourhood is slowly mushrooming on a string of artificial islands some 10km from the city centre.
Some 45, residents are predicted to inhabit these islands by And so a new city rises where once there was marsh, the story of the Netherlands. For some contemporary Dutch artists, the line between art and architecture is very fine indeed. With Icoon Afsluitdijk the artist transformed part of Noord-Holland's 32km-long Afsluitdijk — a dyke built by hand, stone by stone — into a futuristic eco-landscape. Come dark, the headlights of passing cars reflect on 60 roadside floodgates wrapped in a luminous lining to create a sci-fi-like driving experience on an energy-neutral road.
Roosegaarde's Gates of Light installation is part of a mammoth government project, starting in , to renovate the s dyke. By it will, like all national roads, be energy-neutral. But look closely and you'll notice that the house actually rotates around the roundabout. Among the great treasures along the old canals in Amsterdam, Haarlem and elsewhere are the magnificent gables — the roof-level facades that adorn elegant houses.
The gable hid the roof from public view, and helped to identify the house, until , when the French occupiers introduced house numbers. Gables then became more of a fashion accessory. There are four main types of gable: the simple spout gable, with diagonal outline and semicircular windows or shutters, that was used mainly for warehouses from the s to the early s; the step gable, a late-Gothic design favoured by Dutch Renaissance architects; the neck gable, also known as the bottle gable, a durable design introduced in the s; and the bell gable, which appeared in the s and became popular in the 18th century.
Many old canal houses deliberately tip forward. Given the narrowness of staircases, owners needed an easy way to move large goods and furniture to the upper floors. The solution: a hoist built into the gable, to lift objects up and in through the windows. The tilt allowed loading without bumping into the house front. Some properties even have huge hoist-wheels in the attic with a rope and hook that run through the hoist beam.
The forward lean also makes the houses seem larger, which makes it easier to admire the facade and gable — a fortunate coincidence for everyone. The Nederlands Architectuur Instituut www. The ultimate in early functionalism, windmills have a variety of distinctive designs and their characteristic look makes them national icons.
Rotterdam's storey Witte Huis built was Europe's first 'skyscraper'. Today it looks almost squat compared to its neighbours; it somehow survived the destruction of the city in Frank Lloyd Wright acolyte William Dudok's stunning and vast town hall is the one good reason to visit Hilversum, west of Amsterdam. The website of who's who in Holland's architectural scene is www. It also showcases newly commissioned projects and those underway. The Architectural Guide to the Netherlands by Paul Groenendijk and Piet Vollaard is a comprehensive look at architecture since , arranged by region, with short explanations and photos.
It's in two volumes: — and —Present. The associated website, with a list of the Top structures, is www. There's no arguing with the fact that the Netherlands is a product of human endeavour. Everywhere you look, from the neat rows of polders to the omnipresent dykes, everything looks planned and organised.
But all of the reorganisation has put a strain on the Dutch environment. Flanked by Belgium, Germany and the choppy waters of the North Sea, the landmass of the Netherlands is to a great degree artificial, having been reclaimed from the sea over many centuries.
Maps from the Middle Ages are a curious sight today, with large chunks of land 'missing' from North Holland and Zeeland. The country now encompasses over 41, sq km, making it roughly half the size of Scotland, or a touch bigger than the US state of Maryland. Twelve provinces make up the Netherlands. Almost all of these are as flat as a pannenkoek ; the only hills to speak of rise from its southern tip, near Maastricht. The soil in the west and north is relatively young and consists of peat and clay formed less than 10, years ago.
Much of this area is below sea level, or reclaimed land. The efforts of the Dutch to create new land are almost superhuman. Over the past century alone three vast polders have been created through ingenious engineering: Wieringermeer in North Holland; the province-island of Flevoland; and the adjoining Noordoostpolder.
Much of this, just over sq km, was drained after a barrier dyke closed off the North Sea in Most Dutch people shudder at the thought of a leak in the dykes. If the Netherlands were to lose its km of mighty dykes and dunes — some of which are 25m high — the large cities would be inundated.
Modern pumping stations the replacements for windmills run around the clock to drain off excess water. The danger of floods is most acute in the southwestern province of Zeeland, a sprawling estuary for the rivers Schelde, Maas, Lek and Waal. The latter two are branches of the Rijn Rhine , the endpoint of a journey that begins in the Swiss Alps. The floods of devastated Zeeland and the surrounding region. The resulting Delta Project to prevent future flooding became one of the world's largest public works projects.
Myriad small roads run atop the old dykes and these can make great cycling routes, from which you can appreciate just how far the land lies below the water in the canals, and see the historic windmills once used to keep the water out. Human encroachment has played a huge role in the wildlife of the Netherlands. While the Netherlands' flora and fauna will always be in constant change, one fact remains — birds love the place. In some cases, human activity works in favour of certain species. In Gelderland, the part of the Waal river flowing through the Geldersepoort — an area of lakes, ponds, marshes and willows — has been widened to accommodate increased flow volumes and so has become attractive to new types of birds such as avocets, which settle there.
Similar cases of species returning include the great egret, which had inhabited the Austria-Hungary border region until , showing up in Flevoland after establishment of new polders there, and the white-tailed eagle appearing in the Biesbosch National Park. In other cases, species are introduced into nature reserves, such as the European bison, Highland cattle and Galloway cattle, which behave like extinct species, in a bid to return the landscape to its original state. The Netherlands is a paradise for birds and those who love to follow them around.
Just take geese: a dozen varieties, from white-fronted to pink-footed, break their V-formations to winter here. Along urban canals you'll see plenty of mallards, coots and swans as well as the lovely grebe with its regal head plumage. The large and graceful blue heron spears frogs and tiny fish in the ditches of the polder lands, but also loiters on canal boats in and out of town.
The black cormorant, an accomplished diver with a wingspan of nearly 1m, is another regal bird. A variety of fish species dart about the canals and estuaries. One of the most interesting is the eel, which thrives in both fresh and salt water. These amazing creatures breed in the Sargasso Sea off Bermuda before making the perilous journey to the North Sea.
Herds of seals can be spotted on coastal sandbanks such as those around Texel and off the Groningen coast, where a sanctuary operates to nurse ailing specimens back to health. There are thousands of wild varieties on display, such as the marsh orchid with a pink crown of tiny blooms and Zeeland masterwort with bunches of white, compact blooms. Marshy terrain favours purple loosestrife, cattails and water soldiers, a rare white-flowered lily. Much of the undeveloped land is covered by grass, which is widely used for grazing. Temperate weather means that the grass remains green and grows for much of the year — on coastal dunes and mudflats, and around brackish lakes and river deltas.
Marshes, heaths and peatlands are the next most common features. The remnants of oak, beech, ash and pine forests are carefully managed. Holland's signature flower, the tulip, was imported from elsewhere and then commercially exploited, like much of the country's agriculturally produced flora. With so few corners of the Netherlands left untouched, the Dutch cherish every bit of nature that's left, and that's doubly true for their national parks www.
But while the first designated natural reserve was born in , it wasn't until that the first publicly funded park was established. National parks in the Netherlands tend to be small affairs: for an area to become a park, it need only be bigger than 10 sq km and be important in environmental terms. Most of the 20 national parks in the country average a mere 64 sq km and are as likely to preserve a man-made environment as a wilderness area.
Some national parks are heavily visited, not only because there's plenty of nature to see but also because of their well-developed visitor centres and excellent displays of contemporary flora and fauna. Hoge Veluwe, established in , is a particular favourite with its sandy hills and forests that once were prevalent in this part of the Netherlands. It is the only park that charges admission. Of the 19 remaining national parks, Weerribben-Wieden in Overijssel is one of the most important as it preserves a landscape once heavily scarred by the peat harvest.
Here the modern objective is to allow the land to return to nature, as is the case on Schiermonnikoog, which occupies a good portion of land once used by a sect of monks and which was part of Unesco's recognition of the broader Waddenzee region. As a society, the Dutch are more aware of environmental issues than most. But then again, with high population density, widespread car ownership, heavy industrialisation, extensive farming and more than a quarter of the country below sea level, they need to be. As early as the s a succession of Dutch governments began to put in motion plans to tighten standards to curb industrial and farm pollution.
They also made recycling a part of everyday life, although this has become a subject of some debate. All agree on the need for recycling, but not on how it will be done or by whom. One plan for financing is to charge for waste that goes unsorted. Drilling for natural gas in Groningen has been linked to increased earthquake activity in the area — a major quake measuring 3.
While the Dutch are avid bike riders, they still like having a car at the ready. Despite good, reasonably cheap public transport, private car ownership has risen sharply over the past two decades. Stiff parking fees, insufficient parking spaces, pedestrian spaces and outlandish fines have helped curb congestion in the inner cities. Outside of town centres, minor roads are configured to put cyclists first, with drivers sharing single lanes. Such schemes, plus the aggressive building plan for separate cycling routes, have made some headway in slowing the growth in car use. While elsewhere in the world environmentally concerned drivers are switching to hybrid vehicles, in the Netherlands the trend is toward electric bikes.
Netherlanders now own 1. The effects of climate change are obvious in the Netherlands. Over the past century the winters have become shorter and milder. The long-distance ice-skating race known as the Elfstedentocht may die out because the waterways in the northern province of Friesland rarely freeze hard enough the last race was in The Dutch national weather service KNMI predicts that only four to 10 races will be held this century.
Although damp and cold, winter in the Netherlands today is not the ice-covered deep freeze you see in Renaissance paintings. If the sea level rises as forecast — by an estimated 20cm each century — the country could theoretically eventually sink beneath the waves, like Atlantis, or at least suffer annual flooding in centuries to come. Water-management is of paramount importance to the innovative Dutch who, over the years, have reshaped their landscape to safeguard against flooding. As part of the ongoing Delta Works, recognised as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers, dams and storm-surge barriers have been built as flood protection, while so-called 'water squares' in large towns and cities act as water containers during times of heavy rain if need be; Rotterdam's Benthemplein can hold a mind-boggling 1.
Countrywide, green roofs, planted with water-absorbent foliage, are blooming. The Dutch chicken population hovers around million, one of the largest concentrations in the industrialised world six chickens for every citizen; pigs are close to a one-to-one ratio. Such industrialised farming has been the cornerstone of Dutch agriculture since WWII and has brought much wealth to the country.
But with concerns about ground-water quality, intensive farming and all the artificial fertilisers, chemicals and animal waste that come with it is under scrutiny. The province of Noord-Brabant in the south was the first to limit farm size and ban antibiotics used in feed. More attention is being paid to sustainable development. Organic biologische food is gaining in popularity,and the huge agriculture industry is realising that profits can be made from more sustainable practices and by going green.
One approach is to make greenhouses more efficient by heating them from warm-air aquifers and having industrial outfits pump in the required carbon dioxide from the by-products of their own operations. As sea levels rise and the levels of water flowing down rivers increase, more space has to be made to handle the volume. A severe storm in raised fears that Holland's rivers might overflow and thousands of people had to be evacuated, particularly from the Waal River zone by Nijmegen.