About this location
The Drowned Land of Saeftinghe is one of the most important and largest salt marshes of the Netherlands. It’s location on the edge of the Westerschelde estuary means that salty water from the North Sea mixes with the salt marsh channels turning them brackish. The further inward you go, the fresher the water becomes.
Saeftinghe is special because of its size and its varied flora and fauna, but it also provides a good idea of the prehistoric Zeelandic landscape. It has mudflats, shallows and salt marshes crisscrossed with water channels, which is exactly how the Delta landscape was once formed.
In the late Middle Ages, the Land of Saeftinghe was a thriving area. In the 14th and 16th centuries, large areas of reclaimed land were lost to stormy seas and during the Eighty Years´ War, dikes were breached intentionally in order to protect the city of Antwerp. After that point in history, the area could rightfully be called The Drowned Land of Saeftinghe. Yet from the 17th century onwards, the area was reclaimed from the sea once again. Then in 1907, the last part of the drowned land was reclaimed creating the Duchess of Hedwig Polder bordering the south-eastern part of Saeftinghe.
The plant life in the salt marshes reflects the impact of the brackish tidal waters. Scurvy grass is one of the many unusual plants you will find here along with other saltwater loving plants such as spear-leaved orache, sea purslane, sea aster, saltmarsh bulrush, sea arrow grass and sea couch. In the east, where the influence of freshwater is greater, you´ll find various reed beds that have evolved over the centuries.
Saeftinghe is rich in birdlife.
Thousands of coastal birds come to this area to breed, such as herring gulls, black-headed gulls, common terns and oystercatchers. The reeds are important brooding areas for species on the endangered list such as the bearded reedling, bluethroat, reed warbler and marsh harrier. In the latter part of summer sometimes more than 100 marsh harriers from the Delta area gather in Saeftinghe. In the course of autumn most migrate to the south and Saeftinghe is also an important port of call for many migrating and over-wintering birds. Of the geese species the greylag goose is the most prevalent with some 50,000 of them in the area at any one time. In addition the number of wigeons, shelducks, pintails and spoonbills is of international significance.
Regular excursions are organised in the area. See the events calendar for the exact dates.