The centuries have left their traces in the Northern Meuse Valley, offering us a rare opportunity to travel through time. The river and its terraces, the pastures, the ribbon development, all show us how the landscape and its inhabitants have adapted to each other. So too, the iconic hedgerows remain a living testament to ancient tradition.
This is the oldest cultivated landscape in the Netherlands. In this relatively small area thousands of years of history have been compressed. There is no area in Europe where landscape, nature, culture, and economic activity have been so visibly intertwined, for such a long time, as here. Traces of various historical periods remain visibly present on the landscape. They range from prehistoric and roman relics in Cuijk to an abandoned 19th century railway line in Boxmeer. Most characteristic are the woven hedgerows which enclose fields and meadows. They form a mosaic of hedgerows, meadows, ponds, and aged pollard trees and offer sanctuary to an incredibly diverse range of flora and fauna. Once upon a time, this magnificent maze of hedgerows and meadows covered an area of 15.000 hectares. Now, little more than 2.000 hectares remain. This includes the Maasheggen-reserve under stewardship of the State Forestry Department.