From Rugged Dunes to Dune Grasslands
Marvel at the rare plants and animals that live in this rugged landscape with old dunes. Proper management has reinstated its dynamics. The wind has brought the sand back in motion and the dunes are drifting again. Now that water extraction has been stopped, moist-living plant species such as Grass of the Parnassus, centaury and orchids have returned. In between, dune fritillaries hover and Roman snails hide, and, rising above, you can hear the song of woodlarks and numerous other birds.
Unique Flora and Fauna
In the thicket zone, you will spot many bushes and hardly any trees. The often-thorny bushes have been ‘clean-shaven’ by the wind. Buckthorns, hawthorns and dog roses provide a safe habitat to birds and insects. It is a popular breeding ground for nightingales.
The dune grasslands are almost unique throughout Europe. The oligotrophic (nutrient-poor) soil results in a wide variety of plants and insects. Here you can discover rare species, such as smooth and regular bedstraw, dune pansies, broomrapes, moon ferns, euphrasy and Southern Marsh-orchids. Flying around and above you are dragonflies, hairy dragonflies, brown Winter Damselflies and orange tips.
Grazing is necessary, to prevent the dunes from overgrowth. Until 1954, rabbits were the large grazers here. Due to a variety of viral diseases, the rabbit population was dramatically reduced and the area rapidly became more rugged. Increasing concentrations of nitrogen in the air resulted in even faster overgrowth. These days, spread across the park’s dune areas, you will find large herbivores such as Scottish Highlanders, Konik horses, fallow deer and a herd of wisents.
Wisents are also called European bisons. They are the largest, living land mammals in Europe. You can spot them in Zuid-Kennemerland National Park.
Due to the significant natural values of the flowery dune grasslands, the park is part of Natura 2000, the European nature network. To further enhance the park, three Ecoducts have been built, that together connect over 7,000 hectare of unique nature reserve, thus providing a larger, contiguous habitat to plants and animals, including roe deer, weasels, hazel worms, sand lizards, natterjack toads, dune roses and a variety of butterfly species.