At GrensPark Kempen ~ Broek, different parties, including ARK Nature Development, have worked together for twenty years to advance nature, among other things by linking separate nature reserves and water storage.
Horses, cattle and deer play a major role in the development of nature in the region. Natural grazing creates various natural edges of the forest: the forest is gradually transformed into a grassland by the scrub and brush of the flowers. In a part of the frontier park, Stramprooierbroek, the first results of this grazing can already be seen and varied, and natural forest edges have been created. These are rich in insects, birds and small mammals. But there is work to be done: Many of the transitions between the region’s forests and grasslands remain difficult dividing lines in the landscape, even separated from one another by barbed wire.
New additions to nature development
Natural Shepherds were given companionship. Wild boars moved to Kempen~Broek from Belgium and Germany, just as in many nature reserves in Limburg and Brabant. The presence of wild boars provides opportunities: rooting in the soil has a great added value for nature. Wild boars prefer to do this at the edges of the forest, and this is called the “forest edge effect”. These rooting areas are more common near the edge of the forest because wild boars use the forest area to hide from danger and forage from the edge of the forest for food.
Rooting within the limits
Wild boars traditionally live in Holland. However, in 1826 the wild boar died in our country due to poaching. In 1904, the wild boar was returned as a hunting animal to the royal family. Wild boars are currently allowed to live in the Veluwe and De Meinweg National Park in northern Limburg. But they live in large parts of the Netherlands, including Brabant and Limburg. So we know that rooting in nature reserves has a great added value to nature. Despite this important function of ecosystems, the presence of wild boar also faces resistance: pigs migrate from the forest to the fields. If food could be found on these farmlands, damage could be done here. In addition to damage to agriculture, cars crossing wild boar habitats are a problem and cause wildlife accidents. In addition, farmers are concerned about the possibility of African swine fever being spread by wild boars.
Opportunities and bottlenecks
ARK Nature Development, in collaboration with the University of Utrecht and Natuurmonumenten, recently investigated the opportunities and bottlenecks for the presence of wild boars in Kempen ~ Broek Border Park. The main conclusion is that a strong, diverse and large enough frontier garden with a varied and rich food supply will limit the chance of disturbance in agricultural areas. In combination with nets, wild boars are prevented from seeking shelter in agricultural areas rich in nutrients.
Important traffic jams have also been identified. There is already (not yet operational) a wildlife warning system in place, and there is also a safer mode for traffic and wild boars at hand.
Wild boar as a main species
An important effect of the wild boar on soil, vegetation and soil organisms is soil rooting. In search of food, the wild boar moves the soil. This results in open spaces in the landscape, where pioneering plant species can establish their presence. Many plant species that we now know as “field plants” find their native habitat in soils disturbed by rooting.
Another advantage of rooting is that it can promote the decomposition of soil organic matter and has an accelerating effect on the nitrogen cycle in the upper soil layer.
Wild boars are omnivores and they burrow into the ground with their sensitive noses to get food. They found roots, beetle larvae, or food stocks from mice. Bald spots arise due to this disorder. They can even open thick grass. The ground seems to have been dug up like pigs are busy. In addition, pigs also eat carrion and can eat large dead animals in no time. And break it down so that the bait is available to the smallest scavengers. So wild boars can be of great value to nature.
ARK Nature for development calls for attention to natural processes, such as erosion, sedimentation, tides, flow, grazing and predation. These are primal forces that have kept the game of nature in motion for millions of years. As a result, players developed survival strategies that made them who they are. Soil disturbance by animals is also such a process. Circulation plays a major role in opening up the dense vegetation to any animal or plant waiting for this opportunity.
Text: ARK Nature Development
Photos: Unsplash.com; Rudmer Wanderer, Saxefraga
Drawing: Jeroen Helmer, ARK Nature Development