Read in: Nederlands
The Amsterdamse Bos is the recreational eyeball of Amstelveen and Amsterdam. With no less than 1,000 hectares of trees, water features, rolling landscapes and grassland, it is an oasis between the busy cities. With the cities, the forest is getting busier every day, but it does not seem to bother the Forest…
Often, popular places perish with their own success. Think of a small-scale festival that is initially intimate and special, but explodes when the general public discovers is and is bound by hundred new rules. The intimacy is gone. Or take the Vondelpark, where you can walk over heads on a beautiful summers day, when the grass is covered by the waste that people leave behind at the end of the day. But not The Amsterdamse Bos, that receives around 6.5 million visitors with hardly no damage at all.
How is it possible that there are no hundred rules in this forest and that all those visitors still behave properly? No one can answer this question better than Olav Martens, who has not only been a forest ranger for 30 years, but who used to come here regularly as a child and now even lives here!
“Jakoba Mulder, or Miss Woods, came up with the design of the Amsterdamse Bos over 85 years ago. She has had a progressive vision, because her design still works perfectly today, ” Martens says.
He mentions the big hill, from where you have a beautiful view over the Bos or the Grote Speelweide (large playing field), where you can enjoy sports. And the water provides cooling on a warm summers day. “Today we could not have designed it better,” says the forest ranger.
Crowds spread throughout the day
Yet here too the crowds are increasing. “Of course more and more people use the forest. In the old days, people recreated on hot days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and then everyone went home for dinner. Now sports clubs are playing early in the morning and whole families are barbecuing in the evening. ”
But that seems to be the only thing. For the rest, the credo of managing the forest is still: everyone must come and go wherever and whenever he or she wants. “We always ensure that the forest is clean and tidy. If we expect more crowds somewhere, we also provide more bins. I don’t know if it is because of our policy, but the fact is that people here just clean up their mess. You find something now and then, but in general, everything is always left tidy, ”Martens says with some pride.
Barbecuing and birthday parties
For example, you can still barbecue freely in the Amsterdamse Bos (unless you do not leave any scorch marks), you can organize small-scale birthday parties and dogs can still go loose almost everywhere, which is quite liberal for such a crowded place. “Yes and we want to keep it that way. The Amsterdamse Bos must remain a place for everyone. That means that people have to take each other into account. So dog owners must appeal to their dog, otherwise he or she cannot run free. Cyclists must take into account joggers and vice versa. And yes, the crowds are increasing, but in the end it almost always goes well.”
Nevertheless, the Amsterdamse Bos also keeps up with the times. “We are making a plan for the future, with municipalities, entrepreneurs and users. That does not mean that the Forest will be completely overhauled, but we are open to renewal. Perhaps there is an entrepreneur with a very nice addition to the Forest. We are open to suggestions, ” adds the spokeswoman for the Amsterdamse Bos.
Things to do in the forest
The Bostheater is perhaps the most special attraction. An open-air theater was already drawn into Jakoba Mulder’s original design. The open location was also used, but occasionally. The Forest Theater had its own company for 35 years and there are always performances every season.
“The Bostheater has its own productions, but also collaborates with renowned companies, so now there is more extensive programming, ” director Ingejan Ligthart Schenk explains.
“We do guard the mystique of the environment: every performance must fit into this theater. Het Bos is our home and we must respect that. ”
This summer the show De Drie Musketiers will be played and there is a children’s show as well: The crazy tree house of 13 floors. Dutch astronaut André Kuipers will give a stargazing lesson at the end of the season.
No fewer than six walking routes have been mapped out through the forest, four of which are freely accessible with the dog. All routes have their own theme. Forester Martens still finds the Hill Walk (6 km) the most beautiful. “This will guide you through all the wonderful aspects of the Forest,” he promises. In honor of its 85th anniversary, the Special Tree Route will start this summer, which will take you past all the special trees, including “The old lady” (an old chestnut tree that was already there before the forest was laid).
PICNIC / BARBECUE
Everywhere in the forest you are allowed to picnic and barbecue. “Of course with common sense. So not along the edge of the forest and people are not allowed to do any damage to the forest, so there should be no scorching spots, ” the forest ranger says.
Learn during a workshop what you can eat from the forest and how you can also save flora and fauna.
Take the ferry (pont) to the forest from Nieuw-West, which is a completely different way to enter the forest. Walk to the Boswinkel and pick up De Fluistervink, an electric tour boat including a forester who tells you everything about what you encounter along the way.
There are various rowing junctions throughout Noord-Holland and of course there is also one in the Amsterdamse Bos. Or you can take the canoe or pedal the boat yourself. “Seen from the water the forest really gives you a different experience,” Martens concludes.
Consult the Amsterdamse Bos summer calendar. Every week there are all kinds of fun walks, workshops or activities (for children). You can participate for free or pay a small fee.
More information is to be founds on www.amsterdamsebos.nl and facebook.com/amsterdamsebos
Or visit De Boswinkel on Bosbaanweg 5.
Read in: Nederlands