First measures of the LIFE Nardus & Limosa project implemented
Nardus grasslands (named after the characteristic matgrass, Nardus stricta) and its characteristic iconic species, like the black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa, are under threat in Belgium and the Netherlands. The main goal of the LIFE Nardus & Limosa project is the cross-border restoration of meadow-heathland systems that are rich in Nardus grasslands. The five project areas are the best areas in the Campine region where somewhat nutrient-richer heath systems occur, with abundant grassland and meadow bird populations. The project focuses on studying, testing and implementing a P-mining method that takes breeding birds into account.
Eurosite members Natuurpunt and Brabants Landschap implemented the first restoration measures in 2021, in cooperation with Flanders’ Nature and Forest Agency, the Bargerveen Foundation, the municipality of Turnhout and Ghent University. On the Belgian ‘Ravels Kamp’, part of Turnhout’s fens area, trees have been removed to improve the heathland habitat. On the Dutch heathland the ‘Regte Heide’, trees have been removed from heath and forest banks. Tree trunks were removed by milling and ‘choppering’ (deep mowing) and the soil has been evened. To restore the soil’s mineral balance, stone dust was scattered on the site. The parabolic dune has been turfed as well as choppered. Furthermore, farmlands on the edge of the heathland were sowed with yellow oat and arable herbs. For soil restoring purposes, stone dust and chalk were scattered here as well. In the grasslands near the ‘Riels Laag’ timber storage (young trees) was removed. The meadows will be managed more effectively to develop species-rich Nardus grasslands. Increased mowing activities and grazing are a necessity in reaching that goal. However, the breeding season is currently ongoing. After the breeding season, measures will be carried out on the ‘Rovertsche Heide’ as well. More information regarding the Dutch work by Brabants Landscape is available here (in Dutch).
The effects of field measures on the habitat type Species-rich Nardus grasslands on siliceous substrates are intensely monitored. An accompanying study will result in more data on the effects of P-mining on the food of meadow birds and will give more insight in optimal management of the habitat type without affecting typical meadow birds.
Please find more information on LIFE Nardus & Limosa here (in Dutch).
Photo credit: Brabants Landschap