With the installation of the Bird Watch Screen, the design work for the new meadow bird area in the Zoetermeer Meerpolder has been completed. The official unveiling of the screen took place on Friday, March 15, 2024. The administrators involved witnessed the joyful fact that the first meadow birds, especially the oystercatchers, were able to find the area again. In the afternoon, a walk from the Buytenpark, via the godwit soos, to the Bird Watch Screen was organized for residents and other interested parties. Bird experts were on hand to provide explanations.

The Meerpolder is located between Zoetermeer and Leidschendam-Voorburg. The new meadow bird area was created through a collaboration of farmers and residents from the area, farmland bird experts, the municipalities of Zoetermeer and Leidschendam-Voorburg, the Rijnland Water Board and the province of South Holland.

Farmland birds like the godwit, lapwing, oystercatcher and redshank really belong to South Holland. For many of these birds, our province is an important place to give birth to their young. Yet these birds are not doing well. That is why the province is working hard to provide sufficient suitable habitat again, such as in the Meerpolder.

Beautiful collaboration

Gedeputeerde Berend Potjer of the province of South Holland: "Nature is beautiful and even more beautiful if you can actively experience it. This municipal cross-border project is a good example of how to make a polder climate-proof and that farming and nature can go well together. The area has not only become more attractive for the meadow birds, but also for people. Several goals, such as biodiversity and agricultural structure strengthening, have been achieved. Also nice that the farmers themselves will do the management."

Dry feet for farmers, wet feet for meadow birds

Water board member Aad Straathof hooks up: "The motto of this project was 'dry feet for the farmers, wet feet for the meadow birds.' Thanks to a voluntary parcel exchange, the province's meadow bird areas are now contiguous. The parcels that are somewhat higher up now belong to the farmers, so they have less waterlogging. By creating lows in the pastures and constructing nature-friendly banks, 'wet feet' areas for meadow birds were created."

Important breeding area

Farmland birds such as the godwit, lapwing, oystercatcher and redshank, are inseparable from South Holland. For many of them, this province is a crucial place to give birth to their young. However, the populations of these birds are under pressure, which is why the province is working hard to create sufficient suitable habitat, such as in the Zoetermeer Meerpolder. Marcel Belt, Leidschendam-Voorburg alderman: "Residents can also enjoy this new nature spot. Besides the 'successful Nieuwe Driemanspolder', this is a new addition to the Duin Horst Weide area. Between the busy cities, here we can enjoy nature, cycling and walking and beautiful farms with cows and meadow birds! The new viewing screen and information board add to the experience and awareness."

Long-term project

Achieving more habitat is a long-term process. This project, started in 2018, is now successfully completed in 2024. The aldermen of the Zoetermeer and Leidschendam-Voorburg municipalities are also proud of this initiative and see it as an important step in preserving farmland birds in the region. Marijke van der Meer, Zoetermeer alderman: "The idea for this special area started in Zoetermeer, together with Staatsbosbeheer. And by seeking broad cooperation and putting our shoulders to the wheel, we have achieved this wonderful result. Very important is the extra attention for the herb and bee landscape, because meadow bird chicks must be able to eat lots of insects to grow up healthy."

Visit the photo exhibit

To give this wonderful result more visibility, in July and August the photo exhibition "Zoetermeerse Meerpolder: ready for meadow birds" will be on display at the provincial government building. Photographers from the Bird and Nature Association Zoetermeer have taken beautiful pictures of the meadow birds in this area. The administrators unveiled the first 4 photos of this exhibition.