Revival of dynamics by activation of sanddrift in inland dunes. The central objective of the project is: enlarging the area of drifting sands and raising its quality in the nature reserve ’De Loonse and Drunense Dunes’.
This nature reserve participates in Natura 2000 because of the presence of large areas of the habitats H2310 (Dry sand heaths with Calluna and Genista) and H2330 (Inland dunes with open Corunephorus and Agrostis grasslands), including transition stages to dry heath lands and open forests. Among the many breeding birds are Eurasian nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus (A224), and Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe (A277). Goal of the project is also to increase the breeding numbers of these birds as well as increasing the chance for establishment of breeding Eurasian wryneck Jynx Torquilla (A233) and Tawny pipit Anthus campestris (A255) who were breeding here in the past but are found now only during winter as migrants.
The well-known and very attractive National Park ‘De Loonse and Drunense Dunes’ in the south of the Netherlands are in European context a very important area for inland drifting sands. Over 90 % of the inland drifting sands in Europe can be found in the Netherlands and in the ‘Loonse and Drunense Dunes’ the second largest area in the Netherlands of this fascinating habitat can be found. The drifting sands are applied for Nature 2000 mainly for the habitats H 2310 (Dry sand heaths with Calluna and Genista) and H2330 (Inland dunes with open Corunephorus and Agrostis grasslands) and as a habitat of the Eurasian wryneck Jynx Torquilla (A233), Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe (A277), Tawny pipit Anthus campestris (A255) and Eurasian nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus (A224).
The drifting sands in the nature reserve are surrounded by forests. Today we highly appreciate those drifting sands but for a long time (starting in 1875!) it was tried to conquer these sands, mainly by planting trees. The size of the open areas decreased and the diminishing dynamics in the remnant area increased the speed of succession in the surviving drifting sands. The deposition of nitrogen in the Netherlands even more accelerated this process of succession. The large area of this nature reserve, including the drifting sands, also attracts many visitors. They are welcome but they disturb the fringes of the drifting sands, just where the species rich transitions between drifting sands, heath land and forest can be found, including the habitats of rare breeding birds.
As a consequence of all these processes, the most important habitats in this National Park are threatened seriously nowadays.
We hope to establish a revival of the dynamics within these drifting sands by the removal of some parts of the surrounding forest including removal of the top soil. Relevant as well is the proposed recreational zoning. The building of a sheep fold guarantees a better management.
In order to realise the objectives several projects have to be performed. The main actions are the following:
1. The habitats H2310 en H2330 will be enlarged with 110 hectares by removal of forest including the top soil. The habitats will develop on the spots where the forest has been removed. The total surface of the concerning habitats increases from 465 hectares now up to 575 hectares after implementation of the project.
2. Direct quality improvement of the habitats H2310 and H2330 in the total area of 575 hectares, by enhancing the effects of the wind in the area leading to an increasing blowing of sand. Also the present monotonous structures in the vegetation will be broken up by small-scale removal of the top soil. The combination of both will lead to vegetation that will be dominated by e.g. lichens and the grass Corynephorus canescens. This is the favourite habitat for many insects, which is in turn the main food for tawny pipit, wheatear and many other birds.
3. These improvements of the quality of the habitats H2310 en 2330, and so improving it as a habitat for feeding an breeding birds, insects and lichens will be further improved by the recreational zoning.
4. The improvements will be lasting by increasing the intensity of sheep grazing in the area. In this way the small-scaled variation within the habitats H2310 en H2330 will be maintained and a returning dominance of tress and/or grasses will be prevented.
Naturally the present situation will be determined and the impact of the restoration management plan will be monitored, also to be able 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 birds, butterflies.