The major part of these peat lakes and wetlands is not a natural landscape. It is the result of centuries of peat exploitation.
In the early Middle Ages the region was covered by a pillow bog. Large amounts of peat were used as natural fuel for the industry and households of the cities of Utrecht and Amsterdam.
Cutting and digging peat created lakes, which for the most part were reclaimed and became a polder. A few of them still exist as lakes, like the Vinkeveense Plassen, the Botshol, the Loosdrechtse Plassen and the Ankeveense Plassen.
In these wetlands a fine structure of land and water developed, in which the pattern of the 11th and 12th century reclamations remains visible.
The shallow peat lakes with long reed shores and many water plants accommodate an intensive biological life. The food web is very complicated. There is a strong interrelation between the life in the water and above.
The extensive reed fields bordering the lake play an important role in the nutrient balance of the water.
This landscape is not sustainable and it will disappear within hundred years. In the shallow and wind protected parts the water is overgrown with plants forming new peat and ending in a landscape with marshes and marsh woods. In the deeper and wind exposed parts the land strips disappear by the erosion by wind and frost.
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