Leenderbos & Groote Heide

On behalf of the Forestry Commission and De Dommel water board, Strootman Landschapsarchitecten has drawn up a planned layout for this extraordinary area of woodland and natural beauty.


Noord-Brabant, ten oosten van Valkenswaard


Staatsbosbeheer regio Zuid en Waterschap De Dommel


Kenniscentrum Landschap van de RUG (Theo Spek), Cultuurland Advies (Martijn Horst)

Surface Area

3.380 ha

Design Year




Harmonious cooperation, struggle, pushing and pulling, giving and taking, beads of sweat and a smile: this sums up the relation between people and nature in the area that is now known as Leenderbos. Over a few thousand years people have tried to rearrange nature as they wanted. They have made the area drier, then wetter, left their mark on it and then partly wiped it out again, deforested it, reforested it, opened it up, closed it off, caused drifting sands, settled them again and then caused them all over again. What an effort! It is all that effort that has made the Leenderbos what it is: a highly interesting cultural landscape with high natural values. Still, it can be made even more beautiful. On behalf of the Forestry Commission and De Dommel water board, we have drawn up a planned layout for this extraordinary area of woodland and natural beauty.

Although planners often regard the Natura2000 objectives as conservative and restrictive, the planned layout for the Leenderbos shows that they can sometimes form an excellent combination with the ambition of making cultural historical values more visible and tangible and of enhancing the pleasure to be had from spending time in the area. Part of this plan comprises proposals to improve the quality of the water and to make the area even wetter. This will cause an increase in groundwater levels and reintroduce water into the peatlands. The greatest potential for the restoration of wetlands and peatlands lies on the west side of the Leenderbos. This is also where most of the Douglas pine woods and their drainage ditches are to be found. Turning this area into an open heath can resolve a number of issues through a single intervention.

An ecological North-South link is created, the peatlands situated to the west of the wood are connected with one another, and the pine wood can be replaced by a heath that loses much less water in evaporation. At the same time, the route from the villages to the natural area is made more attractive because presently when you come from the boundary you will first arrive on the open heath, with long visual axes of the surroundings, before entering the wood itself. A dry ecological link will be created on the east side of the area. Small clearings enclosed by wooded banks form islands in the open space of the heath.

The wood is given a stronger natural function, but its dimensions are still considerable. Measures are therefore taken to enhance the orientation and to make the wood attractive for recreation, such as the addition of new fire lanes to the existing ones and the creation of clearings in the wood to create a variegated whole.

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