Landscape openness

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Despite the trend towards uniformity in the Dutch landscape, extremes in terms of the degree of landscape openness can still be found. The most open areas are the large water bodies, the northern marine clay and peat areas and the IJsselmeer polders. Small, closed areas are found throughout the Netherlands, in particular on sandy soils.

Extremes of openness

Landscape openness is determined by the number of elements above eye level: slopes, tall vegetation such as woods, groves and wooded banks, buildings in towns and villages, houses and commercial buildings. In the early 20th century, there were large differences between areas as regards the openness of the landscape. However, much has changed during the last century, and landscapes have become much more uniform. Nevertheless, extremes of 'open' and 'closed' landscapes still remain.

Marine clay and sandy areas

In the north and west of the Netherlands, large open spaces are mainly found in the marine clay areas, the Zuiderzee polders and parts of the peat meadow area and the peat district. These areas feature little tall vegetation and few buildings, and what little there is, is concentrated in and around villages and farms. Small, 'closed', areas, where fields alternate with many small wooded patches, tree-lined roads and wooded banks are mainly found on sandy soils (Noordelijke Wouden, Twente, Graafschap, Winterswijk, Gelderse Vallei and central Brabant). More closed areas are also found in some transition areas along the major rivers of the Netherlands (Langbroekerwetering in the province of Utrecht), and in the south-western marine clay area (Walcheren and Zuid-Beveland).


  • Dijkstra, H. en J. van Lith-Kranendonk (2000). Schaalkenmerken van het landschap in Nederland. Rapport 040. Alterra, Wageningen.
  • Meeuwsen, H.A.M. en R. Jochem (2011). Openheid van het landschap berekend met het model ViewScape. WOT werkdocument 281. WOT Natuur & Milieu, Wageningen UR, Wageningen.

Technical explanation

Naam van het gegeven
Verantwoordelijk instituut
Geografische verdeling

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Reference of this webpage

CBS, PBL, RIVM, WUR (2024). Landscape openness (indicator 1022, version 03,

) Statistics Netherlands (CBS), The Hague; PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague; RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven; and Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen.