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National Park Veluwezoom, Holland

Location:National Park Veluwezoom, Holland

Habitats:Various types of habitat

Livestock:Various breeds and types of livestock

In brief:Managed by Natuurmonumenten, 70% of the area of the 5,000 hectare National Park has been under very low intervention management, (focused on natural processes as much as possible) for the last 20 years

Contact:Jim Swanson

Tel:01531 631344

Email:jim.swanson@grazinganimalsproject.info

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Managed by Natuurmonumenten, 70% of the area of the 5,000 hectare National Park has been under very low intervention management, (focused on natural processes as much as possible) for the last 20 years. It is an undulating landscape of mixed heathland, Scots Pine and broadleaved woodland with some ex - farm grassland. Oak and Silver Birch woodland is found on nutrient poor / higher ground, Beech on deeper soils, and introduced Scots Pine is widespread. Under this system they anticipate that Beech will eventually replace Scots Pine and the open heathland and dense woodland landscape and mix of habitats will change to become heathland wood pasture. The overall idea is that they want 1 or 2 areas like this in Holland (i.e. where natural processes are paramount); the rest will be managed as cultural landscapes (Veluwezoom is 5,000 Ha set in 90,000 Ha of Veluwe to put the scale of this management change in context, i.e. management for nature conservation should vary and not be the same on each area, as this will lead to a loss of biodiversity overall)

This approach is not without it’s economic cost, for example they are sacrificing E 300,000 annually by not harvesting Pine (the 3,000 Ha of woodland could provide 15,000 m3 of timber @ E 20 / m3…there is a local paper mill). They allow grazing, scrub and tree encroachment, fires, storm damage, insect ‘pests’ (e.g. Heather Beetle) and disease to continue with little intervention. This management is difficult to reconcile with EU N2K legislation. Highland cattle were introduced in 1983 and now there are 100 cows and calves on 4,000 Ha, 50% females, 50% males. These are unregistered, i.e. exempt from legal regulations like tagging. The cattle are monitored (4 x in winter) and Natuurmonumenten will only intervene with those clearly in distress (alone, not socialising, not wanting to get up, depressed, not responsive). Carcasses have to be removed for animal health reasons, but some aren’t found (they would like to leave them). Water is provided in artificial rain fed ponds, which tend to be at either ends of cattle tracks, i.e. they are a key determinant (along with more nutritious grasslands) of how cattle move and utilise the site. Interestingly, cattle don’t know how to break ice, ponies do! Female cow foraging behaviour is also largely determined by location of areas of more nutritious grassland, e.g. spend 70% of their time around ex-farmland grass; bulls are dispersed more widely (as males have ‘territories’). There is a dominant bull, and hierarchical behaviour leads to pawing of ground which creates nice bare areas for annual plants, reptiles and invertebrates
Visitors are advised to keep at least 25 metres from cows with calves as they could be dangerous
They would also like Lynx and Wolf (Puma sightings recently!)….it is possible that lynx are already present, and if not with the development of ecological networks across Europe it is likely that both could arrive!
Grazing does not deal with Scots Pine so they have been discussing the introduction of European Bison, but this would have implications for public access and would need large investment in the site infrastructure
There are also Wild Boar, Red, Roe and Fallow Deer; all except Roe are controlled, and their carcasses left in certain areas. Stocking rates: a.) 1 cow / 40 Ha. b.) 3 - 4 Red Deer / 100 Ha. c.) 0.2 Fallow Deer / 100 Ha. d.) 2 Wild Boar / 100 Ha e). Roe deer