English summary Wuthering Heaths

Restoration of inland dunes and psammophyle heathland in the North-western Veluwe "Wuthering heaths"

Project objectives   

The central objective of the project is to enlarge and/ or improve the area of sand drifts, dry and moist heathland and to connect the different subareas in order to enhance the dispersion of target species, ultimately resulting in increasing populations.

The large area of the Veluwe participates in Natura2000 because of the presence of large areas of several threatened habitats and species. Important habitats are e.g. "Psammophyle heath with Calluna and Genista” (H2310), "Open grasslands with Corynephorus and Agrostis on inland dunes” (H2330), "Dry European heathland” (H4030) and "North-Atlantic moist heathland with Erica tetralix” (H4010). These habitats also occur in the project area on the North-western Veluwe.

Among the many breeding birds in the project area are Eurasian nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus (A224)), Eurasian wryneck (Jynx torquilla (A233)) and wood lark (Lullula arborea (A246)). The Hulshorsterzand sand drift area, part of the project area, is very important for lichens and also mushrooms; many found species are currently categorised as Red List species. The Sandbergsveld site is of high value for moist heath flora like spoon-leafed sundew (Drosera intermedia) and bog asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum). 

The project area is also important for reptiles like sand lizard (Lacerta viridis), adder (Vipera berus) and slow worm (Anguis fragilis). Other specialities of the project area involve stag beetle (Lucanus cervus (H1083)) and giant earwig (Labidura riparia).

The Hulshorsterzand area is both in national and international context a very important area for inland sand drifts. In the Netherlands it constitutes one of the largest and best preserved areas of inland sand drifts. Over 90% of the inland sand drifts in Europe can be found in the Netherlands and the Veluwe forms the most important area for these drifting sands.

The Hulshorsterzand area is both in national and international context a very important area for inland sand drifts. In the Netherlands it constitutes one of the largest and best preserved areas of inland sand drifts. Over 90% of the inland sand drifts in Europe can be found in the Netherlands and the Veluwe forms the most important area for these drifting sands.

The Hulshorsterzand area is both in national and international context a very important area for inland sand drifts. In the Netherlands it constitutes one of the largest and best preserved areas of inland sand drifts. Over 90% of the inland sand drifts in Europe can be found in the Netherlands and the Veluwe forms the most important area for these drifting sands.

The Hulshorsterzand area is both in national and international context a very important area for inland sand drifts. In the Netherlands it constitutes one of the largest and best preserved areas of inland sand drifts. Over 90% of the inland sand drifts in Europe can be found in the Netherlands and the Veluwe forms the most important area for these drifting sands.

However, the area of drifting sand has been severely reduced in the last centuries. Today we highly appreciate and value the sand drifts, but for a long time people tried to control these sands, mainly by planting pine-trees (Pinus sylvestris). In the North-western Veluwe this took principally place from the period from the end of the19th century until app. 1950. The effort was highly successful and nowadays the remaining sand drifts are consequently surrounded by coniferous forests. The extent of open areas with sand drifts and heathland decreased and the reduced dynamics (e.g. less influence of wind) in the remnant area increased the speed of succession in the surviving drifting sands.

The high atmospheric deposition (mostly by nitrogen) in this part of the Netherlands accelerates the process of succession even more. Active sand drifts and lichen rich pioneer vegetations disappear and are replaced by grass and moss rich vegetations and experience a rapid expansion of young trees (pine and birch (Betula spec.) and shrubs. Among them is the aggressive invasive exotic shrub black cherry (Prunus serotina). The presence of this species constitutes an additional problem to the open habitats as well as to the surrounding forests (which are also partly Natura2000 habitats).

The increase of forest due to afforesting of the former sand drifts and heathlands also led to the fragmentation of the remaining open areas, which are also often of a poorer quality than before. As a result populations of many species associated with sand drifts and heathlands are highly fragmented. Especially less mobile species like ground beetles (carabids), solitary bees and reptiles suffer from this. Already some species have become extinct, among them the breeding birds northern wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe (A277)), great grey shrike (Lanius excubitor) and tawny pipit (Anthus campestris (A255)), and when no further measures are carried out more rare and characteristic species will disappear.

As a consequence of the above mentioned processes and conditions many of the important habitats and associated species are currently under serious threat. Because of this the persistence of a landscape with special geo(morfo)logic, cultural and ecological values is at risk. 

Carrying out this project will highly contribute to the enlargement and restoration of the applicable habitats and associated species in the project area.

Actions and means involved   

In order to realise the objectives several actions have to be performed. The main actions are the following:

  •  Restoration of habitats within the Hulshorsterzand area:  the total area and quality of sand drifts and dry heathland will be increased by removing the top soil, felling of forest, removing young trees and shrubs and hydrological measures (filling up ditches).
  •  Enlargement of the remnant heathland habitats and establishment of connections with nearby heathlands: the area of heathland habitats south of the Hulshorsterzand area towards the heathlands of Elspeetse Heide and Westeindse Heide (owned by the municipality of Nunspeet) will be increased by felling coniferous forest. This results in a larger area of dry and moist heathland and the almost realisation of connections (corridors) between those open areas with the Elspeetse Heide and Westeindse Heide. This action is supported by the municipality of Nunspeet and the corridors will be completed by them in the near future.
  •  Zoning of recreation Hulshorsterzand area: Enhancing the zoning of recreation will take place by the construction of one new view point, the improvement of an existing view point and both the shutting off of a footpath and realisation of a footpath in another part of the area.   
  •  Eradication of black cherry: controlling of black cherry (Prunus serotina) in the project area will diminish the area affected by this aggressive invasive shrub species.
  •  Continuation management: the results of the preceding actions will be continued and guaranteed by setting up a proper continuation management. This management consists of sheep grazing, maintenance of active drifting sand and removing young trees and shrubs. Also, this will enhance the small-scaled variation within the target habitats. The succession towards situations with a dominance of trees, shrubs and grasses will be prevented.

Expected results (outputs and quantified achievements)  

  1. The actions will enlarge the area of the target habitats H2310, H2330, H4010 and H4030 with 99 hectares. The habitats will develop on the spots where the forest has been removed. By this the total surface of the concerning habitats increases from 465 hectares now up to about 564 hectares after implementation of the project.
  2. Direct quality improvement of the habitats H2310, H2330, H4010 and H4030 covers in total an area of about 250 hectares.
  3. Removal of black cherry (Prunus serotina) will take place over about 300 hectares. Both the forest habitats as the open habitats of sand drifts and heathland benefit from this.
  4. The zoning of recreation in the Hulshorsterzand area results in one new and one improved view point and the shutting off of a footpath (420 meter) and realisation of a footpath (415 meter) in another part of the area.
  5. The results of the restoration and enlargement measures will be made long-lasting by the appropriate continuation management already mentioned. This management will be carried out by contractors, own employees of Natuurmonumenten and/ or volunteers. As the continuation management is scheduled to be performed partly by volunteers, also in the further future, purchase of equipment for volunteers is also included in the project proposal.

Naturally both the present situation and the impact of the restoration actions will be determined by monitoring, also to change the management if needed. The monitoring will concentrate on the composition and structure of the vegetation (including lichens) and on the presence of target species of birds, reptiles and entomofauna (ground beetles, solitary bees).