In the most West part of Schouwen you will find the largest forest of Zeeland, de Forestry Westerschouwen. This varied dune forest is a wonderful place to walk, cycle or to go horseback riding. You will see butterflies, birds, mosses, ferns, grasses, herbs and wild mushrooms. In some tall pines even hawks and buzzards have made their nests. Roe deer and deer and Shetland ponies graze here.
You will also find three large drinking water filtering systems in this forest. Fed by water from the Haringvliet it provides Schouwen-Duiveland of drinking water.
About hundred years ago this area looked completely different. Rabbits and sheep ate everything bare on the sandy and windy plains. Sand, threatened the surrounding meadows, orchards and flower bulb fields. From 1920, Austrian and Corsican Pine trees were planted to prevent the sand from being blown away.
The pines did their work, however it led to an unbalanced low diversity of nature. Moreover pines do not belong here. The forestry commission is creating a more diverse nature by introducing a good felling policy, followed by planting native deciduous trees: like oak trees, birches and varieties of poplars.
The largest part of the forest is open to visitors. Only the Meeuwenduinen (Seagull dunes) are not accessible during the breeding season, which is from the 15th of March to 15th of July. Outside this period you are allowed to enter this area over the marked trails.
There are five marked walking trails; distances are three to eight kilometers, which can be linked together in order to walk longer distances. Via several dune passages you can also enjoy the beach on your route. A special path has been made for people with prams or wheelchairs.
Furthermore there are special ATB routes and equestrian routes in the woods.
Hiking routes start at the Excursion barn near the entrance of the forestry on the Kraaijensteinweg. Which is opened from May to October, from 1.15 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. For the other months only at the weekends and on school holidays. Visitors can get information about the area and buy coffee, tea or lemonade. Always check for ticks after walking through the woods. You can remove ticks with special tick tweezers. Ticks can be contaminated by a bacterium, which causes the disease of Lyme.