High-lying Areas with Sandy Soils

The national Delta Programme works on the specific agendas for the high-lying areas with sandy soils, particularly with regard to the quality of fresh water. A preferred strategy has been drawn up for this area.

High-lying areas with sandy soils can be found in a number of places in the Netherlands: in Drenthe, Overijssel, Gelderland, Utrecht, Noord-Brabant and Limburg. Examples include the Hondsrug, the Utrechtse Heuvelrug, the Veluwe and the hills of Limburg. The areas are intersected by brook valleys. They consist of a mosaic of farmland that is farmed in relatively intensive ways, less capital-intensive farmland, and valuable wet and dry nature areas.

These areas account for about half of the Dutch land surface. They are home to 45 percent of the population. They account for 40 percent of employment in the Netherlands, with agriculture and industry as major employers. They are also home to 70 percent of the National Parks, 55 percent of the Natura 2000 sites and 50 percent of the National Landscapes. 


A large share of the high-lying areas with sandy soils receive only limited amounts of fresh water from rivers, or none at all. They are largely dependent on rainwater. Drinking water companies and the food industry, other industries and farmers use deep and shallow groundwater. 

The high-lying areas with sandy soils have had problems with water shortages for decades. With rapid climate change, those problems will continue to increase, groundwater levels will fall, brook valleys will dry up, and water quality will deteriorate. Agriculture, urban areas and nature are particularly affected. 

Preferred strategy for High-Lying Areas with Sandy Soils

As part of the national Delta Programme, a preferred strategy has been drawn up for these areas. The strategy is intended to safeguard the availability and quality of fresh water. It is also important to make the areas more resilient to the effects of climate change. The framework for this preferred strategy consists of the Delta Decisions for Fresh water and Spatial adaptation.The preferred strategy is put into practice as a series of measures.

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