Heathlands Flanders - Intermediate Atlantic heathlands in the Flanders LIFE99 NAT/B/006298

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1 Heathlands Flanders - Intermediate Atlantic heathlands in the Flanders LIFE99 NAT/B/ Project description Environmental issues Beneficiaries Administrative data Read more Contact details: Project Manager: Joost DEWYSPELAERE Tel: 32/2/ Fax: 32/2/ Project description: Background The Bulskampveld, an open landscape of mixed heathlands, poor grasslands, forests and ponds, covered until the middle of the 19th Century, large areas of West and East Flanders. In the 19th Century, this landscape was cleared to make way for agriculture. Some of the land was planted with conifers, and some developed naturally into valuable oak and birch forests. Small remnants of heath and Nardus grassland can now only be found along forest lanes, in non- developed areas, but most of these areas are not protected nor managed properly. The main reason why the woods and heaths in the sandy areas of eastern Flanders were given psci status is the presence of intermediate Atlantic heath and scrub. These heath habitats are quite exceptional in phytogeographic terms because they form the north-eastern extremity of the geographical distribution of many Atlantic plant species. Effective protection is made difficult by the fact that many heathland areas are insufficiently inventoried and that the viability of the seed bank is rapidly deteriorating after years in the ground under trees or in fields. This is harming the prospects for the area's recovery. The Kraenepoel (LIFE Nature project 98/435), although a totally different kind of biotope, is also part of the former Bulskampveld. Objectives The Atlantische heide LIFE-NATURE project was designed to enhance isolated

2 The Atlantische heide LIFE-NATURE project was designed to enhance isolated fragments by enlarging the gene pool of heath flora and fauna. Its first phase is an inventory of the heath biotopes with a potential for restoration. Some important heaths might still be present in areas which are managed by the authorities (provincial land, state forests, military ranges). Once available, the results of this inventory would also help in drawing up a Noodplan Vlaamse Heide (Flanders Heath Emergency Action Plan), which would be designed to identify areas where intermediate Atlantic heath can be developed and to serve as a guidance manual for the government departments responsible for restoring and managing that type of heathland. Once about 60 ha of monotonous conifer plantations in the Drongengoed near Maldegem had been purchased and cleared, volunteers would help the further recovery of the heath biotope, which should result in a trebling of the area under Atlantic heath. Experience has shown that the involvement of volunteers is an ideal way of increasing public support for nature protection. Results This project achieved the following: - preparation of a Rescue Plan for Atlantic Heathlands in Flanders : this rescue plan is based upon a detailed inventory of the ca 500 km2 large area between Gent and Brugge; the entire area covered by the inventory was systematically inventoried with the help of several volunteers and site managers, while other experts provided additional information; - development of a management plan for two sub-sites (Maldegemveld and Gulke Putten); - the land purchase objective of this project (60 ha) was exceeded: the beneficiary was able to purchase 99 ha and obtained a lease agreement for another 53 ha; the area managed in both subsites Maldegemveld and Gulke Putten together increased from 20 ha before the start of the project to 173 ha at the end of the project; - in Maldegemveld, a 22 ha block of forest (pine and larch plantations) was cleared to allow heathland restoration; additional small-scale restoration took place in this sub-site as well as in the Gulke Putten; - after on-site restoration, a 33 ha area in Maldegemveld and 50 ha in Gulke Putten were fenced to start recurring grazing management with Galloways; in the Vorte Bossen and Ursel subsites, recurring mowing management was initiated along the forest paths; - the beneficiary purchased the necessary equipment to restore and manage the heathland vegetation; - the LIFE-Nature restoration measures were publicised through folders, door-to-door information to the surrounding households, and several publications in membership magazines and scientific journals. Conservation benefits for the Natura 2000 site and species/habitats targeted: - the inventory confirmed the unique intermediate position in the EU of these heathland habitats, situated between the truly Atlantic (Brittany, UK, Galicia) and the Continental heathlands (Germany); - the Rescue Plan contributed to an increase of the two pscis concerned by the LIFE project. psci BE (Bossen en Heiden van Zandig Vlaanderen - westelijk deel)was increased from 380 ha to 3064 ha and psci BE (Bossen en Heiden van Zandig Vlaanderen - oostelijk deel) from 500 ha to 3377 ha. Socio-economic effects: - a good relationship was achieved with the military authorities in Gulke Putten, who agreed that Natuurpunt would manage the land around their radio communication installations for the conservation of wet heathlands and related habitats; - the project sub-sites are now being managed by volunteers from the local population.

3 Environmental issues addressed: Themes Habitats - Heath and Scrublands Keywords land purchase restoration measure protected area decision making support Target EU Legislation Nature protection and Biodiversity Directive 79/409 - Conservation of wild birds ( ) Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv... Decision 93/626 - Conclusion of the Convention on Biological Diversity ( ) COM(98)42 -"Communication on a European Community Biodiversity Strategy" ( ) COM(2001)162 -"Biodiversity Action Plan for the conservation of natural resources (vol. I & II)"... Target Habitat types "Species-rich Nardus grasslands, on silicious substrates in mountain areas (and submountain areas in Continental Europe)" Depressions on peat substrates of the Rhynchosporion Old acidophilous oak woods with Quercus robur on sandy plains 91E0 - "Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae)" Oligotrophic waters containing very few minerals of sandy plains (Littorelletalia uniflorae) Oligotrophic to mesotrophic standing waters with vegetation of the Littorelletea uniflorae and/or of the Isoëto-Nanojuncetea Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix European dry heaths Natura 2000 sites SCI BE Bossen en heiden van zandig Vlaanderen: oostelijk deel

4 Beneficiaries: Coordinator Type of organisation Description Natuurpunt vzw NGO-Foundation During the LIFE-project, the name of the beneficiary changed from "Belgische Natuuren Vogelreservaten vzw" to "Natuurpunt Beheer vzw". "Natuurpunt Beheer" is the largest conservation NGO in the Flemish Region (Belgium) with as mission the purchase, restoration and management of areas of natural interest. Site restoration and site management are initiated and carried out largely by volunteers of the 180 local chapters of the NGO and these conservation measures are supported by professionals at the organization's headquarters. The NGO manages over 350 sites, totalling over ha (2003). "Natuurpunt Beheer" is the site management-oriented organisation. Nature study is co-ordinated by the sister organisation "Natuurpunt Studie". Both organisations are units of the NGO "Natuurpunt". Administrative data: Project reference LIFE99 NAT/B/ Duration 01-APR-1999 to 31-MAR Total budget 1,438, EU contribution 719, Project location Vlaams Gewest(België - Belgique) Read more: Brochure Title: Maldegemveld Year: 2002 Editor: Natuurpunt Brochure Title: Gulke Putten Year: 2002 Editor: Natuurpunt

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