Winterswijk is one of 20 national parks in the Netherlands. It is also one of the most active national parks in the country. It covers a total area of approximately 22,000 hectares.
In 2005 the Dutch government added Winterswijk and parts of the municipalities of Oost Gelre and Aalten to the national park. One of the main reasons for doing this was the small-scale character of the landscape, in which elevated areas alternate with wooded banks, farmland, countryside and country estates in quick succession. This type of landscape is known as a hedgerow landscape. The best way to experience it is on foot or by bike The views keep changing - like the sets in a theatre.
There are also several unique conservation areas in Winterswijk. Walk the boardwalk footpaths over the peat bogs in Korenburgerveen, or discover the old-growth forest in Bekkendelle.
The landscape in Winterswijk is an ancient farming landscape. You can see this from the many elevated areas, known as 'essen', where farmhouses and barns once stood centuries ago. The old wooded banks are maintained as natural boundaries between fields and meadows. The little streams that flow through Winterswijk once connected local water sources, but they have since become a unique feature in their own right.
The Valuable Cultural Landscape Foundation (Stichting Waardevol Cultuurlandschap (WCL)) is a foundation that was set up to preserve this beautiful landscape and keep rural areas thriving. As well as investing in projects that preserve the national park, the foundation also promotes dialogue between all those who live and work in the park. Encouraging individuals and groups with different interests to work together to find solutions ensures that Winterswijk National Park is carefully preserved as farmers, nature conservation organisations, land owners, recreation companies, municipal authorities, local businesses and residents all help to secure the future of this unique landscape.