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Like most National Parks in the world, the protection of these areas in the Netherlands is based on international agreements to preserve important ecosystems. The Dutch National Parks have been determined by the Minister of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries. Together with the owners and environmental organisations, the government thereby commits itself to care for the conservation and safeguarding of each valuable piece of natural world. Besides protection, important goals of establishing these parks are education and scientific research.

The Netherlands joined the international agreements on the protection of large nature areas in 1969 in New Delhi. Clearly the Dutch National Parks are relatively small in this tiny nation. Real untouched nature is not available, yet the European country has some valuable and unique ecosystems, including dune, peat and heath areas.

The official Dutch definition of a National Park is:

National Parks are undivided areas of at least 1000 hectare, consisting of nature environment, water and/or woods, with specific ecological characteristics and specific flora and fauna.

One hectare is 10,000 square meters, which is equivalent to 2.471 acres. National Parks can contain farmland, although these will be declared protected areas as well.

Although the agreements were there already at the end of the 1960s, the Netherlands started in 1980 with the preparation of a structure of National Parks. Advises by a special committee led to the first pilot in 1984, called National Park Schiermonnikoog, an island in the northern Waddenzee. It became National Park officially five years later, followed by the other parks in the years thereafter.

An overview of the Dutch National Parks (called Nationaal Park in the national language):

Some areas in the Netherlands have been designated National Parks to-be. These will get the official stamp in the coming years: De Loonse en Drunense Duinen in Noord-Brabant, Duinen van Texel in the Waddenzee, Oosterschelde in Zeeland, Lauwersmeer in Friesland and Groningen, Utrechtse Heuvelrug in Utrecht, De Alde Feanen in Friesland, and Sallandse Heuvelrug in Overijssel.

Information thanks to the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries.

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