The church of the island’s ‘principal town’ Middelbuurt
What is a Unesco World Heritage? <ul><li>A World Heritage must be a place where cultural and natural heritage is so unique, universal and of great value that humanity should keep it safe under every circumstance. You can think of momuments, buildings and landscapes. </li></ul><ul><li>These world heritages are chosen by UNESCO, an international organisation of the United Nation for education, science and culture. This list includes: </li></ul><ul><li>660 cultural monuments, </li></ul><ul><li>166 nature monuments </li></ul><ul><li>25 mixed sites, where culture and nature come together. Schokland is one of these 25 sites . </li></ul>
Why is Schokland a heritage? <ul><li>UNESCO World Heritage Schokland is so special that it is one of the few monuments in the Netherlands to be included on the Unesco World Heritage List, joining such structures as the Reims Cathedral, the Tower of Pisa and the pyramids of Giza. According to Unesco, the "island" in the Polder is a place "of exceptional universal value". There's no better recommendation than that. Schokland is a must for all who want to learn about the Netherlands. "Natuurlijk Schokland" will show you the history, the nature and the culture of Schokland, including the fantastic Dutch landscape and the wonderfull views of the different parts of the "island". </li></ul>
Short History Schokland stands for the history and culture of the Netherlands; it is the symbol of our struggle against the sea. For centuries, Schokland was a densily populated island in the Zuiderzee. But when the sealevel kept rising, Schokland became smaller and smaller. By the early 19th century, the situatie had become intolerable, but the inhabitants of the island refused to give in. In 1859, after repeated flood disasters, the last villages were finally evacueted by royal decree. The island was abandoneded to the elements and the Schokland culture came to an end. In 1942, a large part of the former Zuiderzee was reclaimed, which meant that Schokland ceased being an island and could be reached from all sides via the former see floor.
1859 Schokland’s loss of its island status took place in several stages, the first one ending in 1859. The population of slightly over 600 souls were forced to give up their age-long struggle against the water and were evacueted by order of the Dutch government. Permanent inhabitation of the island had become too dangerous in the view of the authorities. At that time, the situation was so bad, that with every storm the island was largely flooded. The population was forced to retreat in three villages that were built on ‘terps’ (mounds); Middelbuurt, Zuidert and Emmeloord. They used wooden foot planks to move between those villages, because most of the time the soggy land was impassable. In very heavy storms even the terps did not provide a safe place, as became clear in 1825, when a hurricane flooded the whole island and killes 13 inhabitants.
1940 The next stage in the ‘embedding’ of Schokland started in 1940, when the dike of the Noordoostpolder was completed. This polder was part of the extensive Zuiderzee works, a project for the reclamation of a large part of the former Zuiderzee that was developed by the hydraulic engineer and minister Cornelis Lely. From now on, Schokland was lying within the dike of an enclosed lake. The lighthouses had lost their purpose and the last light keeper left Schokland in 1940. On the 9th of September 1942, in the middle of World War II, the Noordoostpolder was officially declared to be clear of the water and Schokland had actually become part of the mainland. In a certain sense this restored the situation as it was before the year 1000, when the Zuiderzee did not excist yet. So, finally man prevailed in the struggle against the water!
Nature <ul><li>On Schokland, various species of animals are found. Amongst them are singing-birds, great white herons, several species of toads and frogs. </li></ul>
Plants and trees <ul><li>The soil on Schokland shows a great diversity. This turned out to be a great opportunity for the growth of several rare sorts of plants and trees. On Schokland, you can find around 350 kinds of toadstools. Some of them are only found on, and around Schokland. </li></ul>
The Island <ul><li>Schokland is the only island that has completely lost its ties with the water. For more than half a century already it is lying in the flat land of the Noordoostpolder as an indefinite, elongated elevation. The murmur of the sea has given way to the rustle of the leaves of the trees that have been planted to mark the former coastline of the island. The words of the well-known 'Zuiderzee ballad' "Waar is het water, waar is de haven? (Where is the water, where is the harbor?)" were conceived here. </li></ul>
Sink away? <ul><li>So, the struggle against the water is a thing of the past. Nowadays not the water but, ironically enough, the lack of it forms the major threat to Schokland. Since the Noordoostpolder was reclaimed in 1942, the island has sunk already two meters, as a result of dehydration of the peat in its subsoil. If no action is taken the whole island is feared to sink away completely within a century. In the past couple of years an amount of five million euro has been invested in measures for a better management of the groundwater level. Time will tell whether this will succeed in stopping this process. </li></ul>
Loss of island status <ul><li>Schokland's loss of its island status took place in several stages, the first one ended in 1859 when the population of slightly over 600 souls was forced to give up their age-long struggle against the water and was evacuated by order of the Dutch government. Schokland was not completely abandoned in 1859. A few people stayed on the island, like the harbor-master of Emmeloord who was also responsible for operating the foghorn. And at the Zuidpunt (South Point) a light-keeper was living, who had to maintain the beacon-light serving the heavy shipping traffic on the Zuiderzee. </li></ul>
The Schokland Museum <ul><li>The Schokland museum is a very special building at Schokland. Many years ago some people in the Netherlands build villages on artificial dwelling hills. They are called “terpen”. This museumbuilding is one of the last three “terpen” in the whole country where you can still live. The several expositions inside, as well as outside, give you a good view on the geology and the archeology of Holland, the development and the perishment of the island, the lives of the Schokker population and the impoldering of the Dutch landscapes. </li></ul><ul><li>The museum is housed in several buildings in the area of the historical church of Schokland. The buildings are very typical for the period in Holland they were build in. </li></ul><ul><li>We have been to Schokland to visit the museum and we all think the museum is very nice for adults, as well as children. They have many expositions and it shows the many aspects of the early day lives. </li></ul><ul><li>Weird fact: many dutch couples try to arrange their marriage in of the churches of Schokland because they look so idyllic and the view is so romantic. </li></ul>
Other activities at Schokland <ul><li>There is a special stone garden where you can learn about the developments of the Schokland nature during ice ages. </li></ul><ul><li>They have many field trips for adults and children. You can make a guided tour around the island, visit the forest or check out the villages. </li></ul><ul><li>It is also very recommended to make a tour around the island by bike (typical Dutch). You can make these tours on your own occasion or with a tourist guide. </li></ul><ul><li>Every two weeks there is a lecture for schools on various subjects such as the geology and archeology in Holland and the development of nature in Holland. </li></ul><ul><li>As you can see, Schokland is definetely worth a visit! </li></ul>