Oostvaardersplassen reserve reshaped conservation in the 1980s as nature was allowed to take its course, now it is rewilding in a more managed way
We are in a 4×4 driving through long grass on a bit of land that was once at the bottom of the North Sea. Drained in 1968, this landscape forms part of the world’s largest artificial island, home to Oostvaardersplassen, one of Europe’s most controversial and influential rewilding projects.
Herds of free-ranging horses, white-tailed eagles, cattle egrets, high-speed trains, planes, powerlines, wind turbines and the city skyline of Almere all fit in a single frame. It is 7,500 hectares (18,500 acres), roughly the size of Manhattan, and 30 minutes’ drive from Amsterdam. Everything you can see is less than 50 years old.