European Rewilding Network

De Maashorst

Natural grazing with Tauros, European bison and Exmoor ponies

Large grazers that include European bison, Tauros and Exmoor ponies are playing a pivotal part in helping to reshape the landscape, making it ever-changing and more biodiverse.
MAURICE VAN DOORN
The digging ability of large grazers to open up moss and grass layers with their hooves aids plant growth by aerating the soil.
Alex Pansier
De Maashorst sits within a wider area of 3,500 hectares that forms the Nature Network Brabant, which is surrounded by a zone of small-scale agriculture.
De Maashorst
The Maashorst brings valuable experience in natural grazing processes – being one of the first sites in Europe to have European bison, Tauros and Exmoor Ponies interacting together on the same site.
Twan Teunissen
De Maashorst is on a mission to link its core open habitat of 1,500 hectares with the surrounding forest.
Herperduin Klompven
Ten new species of breeding bird have been recorded since grazing began
De Maashorst

In the nature core we ensure that process nature is given space. By this we mean that the management and development of nature is determined by natural processes and less and less by human intervention. This contributes to De Maashorst’s identity as the OER area in province North Brabant. For example, dead wood remains and trees are outlined instead of cut down. The wild animals and grazers in the core are part of the intended ecosystem and in that sense also the managers of the area. Together with users and entrepreneurs, we are working on improved recreational facilities in and around the natural shell so that the nature core can develop further in peace and quiet and you really experience the primal feeling there. The aim is to develop De Maashorst sustainably in such a way that all target groups and nature (people, planet, profit) benefit from it.

The area stretches form Zeeland till Nistelrode and from Oss to Uden. Geographically the area is known for its percolation water which is sometimes found on higher locations. The Nature plan aims for species like red deer, badger, pine marten, red-backed shrike, raven, kingfisher, nightjar and natterjack-toad. All species except for red deer are present already. In 2016 large grazers have been introduced: European bison, Exmoorpony and tauros. Efforts have been focused on restoring watersystem, changing agricultural grounds into nature, monitor how large grazers are grazing and using the area and design the area in a way people can enjoy nature safely. The ground owners: Municipalities Oss, Uden, Landerd and Bernheze and National State forest (Staatsbosbeheer) are working together with local stakeholders such as the Water board, Bosgroep Zuid Nederland, local nature organisations, recreational groups, and other local stakeholders to create this nature area: De Maashorst the Primal (Oer) area in Noord-Brabant.

Project: De Maashorst
Region: Noord-Brabant
Type of project: Creating space for wilder nature, Fostering the development of nature based economies, Increasing interest in the wild through communications, Supporting wildlife comeback
Aim and vision: In 2050 De Maashorst is a contiguous nature area of approximately 3500 ha consisting of forest, scrubland, grazing vegetations, ponds and streams where natural processes determine the development and which is accessible for recreation and experience. This area consists of a nature core (approximately 1500 ha) surrounded by a natural shell (part of the Nature Network Brabant / NNB), which is surrounded by a zone with (small-scale) agricultural landscape.
For nature development, we focus on the initiation of natural processes. We use a number of instruments for this:

- Land acquisition and grazing: through the purchase / self-realization, design and conversion of agricultural land and the use of large grazers, the aim is to realize new nature (NNB) and, among other things, through the use of large grazers, the aim is to achieve process nature.
- Natural forest development: the forest develops by making structure holes, variable thinning and planting missing tree species. We also preserve old, decaying and dead trees. More deciduous forest leads to less rainwater evaporation
- Restoration of the water system: an important task for strengthening the nature reserve is the restoration of the water system by reduction of dehydration and increasing the groundwater supply (more deciduous trees and water retention).
- Defragmentation: connecting the sub-areas in De Maashorst with each other by constructing ecoducts and removing roads from the public domain
- Withdrawal of humans (in the long term and as much as possible) from nature management,
- Space for recreation: we do not see tourism and recreation (read: more visitors) as a goal in itself, but as an integral part of sustainable area development and deployed as a means to contribute to social objectives where residents, visitors, companies and the benefit from nature, such as:
- Strengthen identity and pride
- Increase the quality of life and contribution to the health of local residents
- Realizing nature objectives
- Job creation
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, High-impact communications, Recreational activities, Research, Sale of sustainable products
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: - the realization of Nature Network Brabant (new nature; the purchase or conversion of agricultural land into nature) is ready and thereby the continuous grazing area of 1500 ha has been reached
- the conversion of a planted pine forest to a natural forest is entering the final phase
- measures have been taken to limit the extraction of groundwater and the discharge of rainwater and thereby the groundwater level in the nature core is higher
- the natural balance between the area and the size of the population of large grazers and wild animals, with minimal human intervention, is still evolving.
- clearly present recreational zoning (process nature - recreational nature - small-scale agricultural shell)
- The recreational infrastructure and facilities for people with disabilities or disabilities (parking, toilets and wheelchair paths) have been improved
- through safety measures and repeated communication and information about the behavior and whereabouts of the large grazers the resistance to these animals among some of the visitors and residents has been decreased
Results so far: - Introduction of European bison, tauros and Exmoor ponies in 2016 in the southern part of De Maashorst. Large grazers have been living in the northern part of De Maashorst (Herperduin) since 1996.
- Land acquisition and nature development with the opening of the ecoduct that connects the north with the south in 2019. In 2020 the nature core area is about 1250 ha.
- Creating a network of Maashorst rangers (volunteers) who give excursions and keep an eye on the herds.
- Cooperation between municipalities to increase surveillance in the area
- First bison transport in 2020 from Maashorst to Slikken van Heen-Zeeland within the Netherlands.
- Recreation in the natural shell is supported with amenities such as signposted routes, benches and parking spaces. In recent years, new routes and dog walking areas have also been constructed here. Existing routes in the nature center have remained accessible
- An evaluation of the large grazers took place in 2020. The effect of these animals on nature development and the public's perception of safety was investigated. In 2021 we will take the first safety precautions.
Inspirational value: Recovering natural system, continuing the development towards natural forest, allowing natural processes to take place as far as possible, design of a large grazing area with grazers specifically chosen for the desired landscape formation and desired recreation. minimizing human activity from nature management (in time and as much as possible), room for recreation.
Experience you would like to share: Interaction of bison exmoor pony's and tauros, interaction of large grazers and public, effect of large grazers on vegetation types and experience in building a corral for bison.
Experience you would like to gain: In addition to communication and information, what else can we do to ensure that society accepts the great grazers and that the coexistence of humans and animals is promoted? What ideas are other areas applying to create local pride, ownership and responsibility for wildlife among landowners, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders of the area?
Map
Country
Netherlands
Start year
2009
End year
2050
Size (ha)
3500
Area type
Forest-grassland mosaic
Natural process
Natural grazing
Flagship species
Bison, Feral cattle, Feral horses, Roe deer
De Maashorst
Member of:
European Wildlife Bank
Large grazers that include European bison, Tauros and Exmoor ponies are playing a pivotal part in helping to reshape the landscape, making it ever-changing and more biodiverse.
MAURICE VAN DOORN
The digging ability of large grazers to open up moss and grass layers with their hooves aids plant growth by aerating the soil.
Alex Pansier
De Maashorst sits within a wider area of 3,500 hectares that forms the Nature Network Brabant, which is surrounded by a zone of small-scale agriculture.
De Maashorst
The Maashorst brings valuable experience in natural grazing processes – being one of the first sites in Europe to have European bison, Tauros and Exmoor Ponies interacting together on the same site.
Twan Teunissen
De Maashorst is on a mission to link its core open habitat of 1,500 hectares with the surrounding forest.
Herperduin Klompven
Ten new species of breeding bird have been recorded since grazing began
De Maashorst

In the nature core we ensure that process nature is given space. By this we mean that the management and development of nature is determined by natural processes and less and less by human intervention. This contributes to De Maashorst’s identity as the OER area in province North Brabant. For example, dead wood remains and trees are outlined instead of cut down. The wild animals and grazers in the core are part of the intended ecosystem and in that sense also the managers of the area. Together with users and entrepreneurs, we are working on improved recreational facilities in and around the natural shell so that the nature core can develop further in peace and quiet and you really experience the primal feeling there. The aim is to develop De Maashorst sustainably in such a way that all target groups and nature (people, planet, profit) benefit from it.

The area stretches form Zeeland till Nistelrode and from Oss to Uden. Geographically the area is known for its percolation water which is sometimes found on higher locations. The Nature plan aims for species like red deer, badger, pine marten, red-backed shrike, raven, kingfisher, nightjar and natterjack-toad. All species except for red deer are present already. In 2016 large grazers have been introduced: European bison, Exmoorpony and tauros. Efforts have been focused on restoring watersystem, changing agricultural grounds into nature, monitor how large grazers are grazing and using the area and design the area in a way people can enjoy nature safely. The ground owners: Municipalities Oss, Uden, Landerd and Bernheze and National State forest (Staatsbosbeheer) are working together with local stakeholders such as the Water board, Bosgroep Zuid Nederland, local nature organisations, recreational groups, and other local stakeholders to create this nature area: De Maashorst the Primal (Oer) area in Noord-Brabant.

Map
Country
Netherlands
Start year
2009
End year
2050
Size (ha)
3500
Area type
Forest-grassland mosaic
Natural process
Natural grazing
Flagship species
Bison, Feral cattle, Feral horses, Roe deer
Specification
Project: De Maashorst
Region: Noord-Brabant
Description
Type of project: Creating space for wilder nature, Fostering the development of nature based economies, Increasing interest in the wild through communications, Supporting wildlife comeback
Aim and vision: In 2050 De Maashorst is a contiguous nature area of approximately 3500 ha consisting of forest, scrubland, grazing vegetations, ponds and streams where natural processes determine the development and which is accessible for recreation and experience. This area consists of a nature core (approximately 1500 ha) surrounded by a natural shell (part of the Nature Network Brabant / NNB), which is surrounded by a zone with (small-scale) agricultural landscape.
For nature development, we focus on the initiation of natural processes. We use a number of instruments for this:

- Land acquisition and grazing: through the purchase / self-realization, design and conversion of agricultural land and the use of large grazers, the aim is to realize new nature (NNB) and, among other things, through the use of large grazers, the aim is to achieve process nature.
- Natural forest development: the forest develops by making structure holes, variable thinning and planting missing tree species. We also preserve old, decaying and dead trees. More deciduous forest leads to less rainwater evaporation
- Restoration of the water system: an important task for strengthening the nature reserve is the restoration of the water system by reduction of dehydration and increasing the groundwater supply (more deciduous trees and water retention).
- Defragmentation: connecting the sub-areas in De Maashorst with each other by constructing ecoducts and removing roads from the public domain
- Withdrawal of humans (in the long term and as much as possible) from nature management,
- Space for recreation: we do not see tourism and recreation (read: more visitors) as a goal in itself, but as an integral part of sustainable area development and deployed as a means to contribute to social objectives where residents, visitors, companies and the benefit from nature, such as:
- Strengthen identity and pride
- Increase the quality of life and contribution to the health of local residents
- Realizing nature objectives
- Job creation
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, High-impact communications, Recreational activities, Research, Sale of sustainable products
Achievements
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: - the realization of Nature Network Brabant (new nature; the purchase or conversion of agricultural land into nature) is ready and thereby the continuous grazing area of 1500 ha has been reached
- the conversion of a planted pine forest to a natural forest is entering the final phase
- measures have been taken to limit the extraction of groundwater and the discharge of rainwater and thereby the groundwater level in the nature core is higher
- the natural balance between the area and the size of the population of large grazers and wild animals, with minimal human intervention, is still evolving.
- clearly present recreational zoning (process nature - recreational nature - small-scale agricultural shell)
- The recreational infrastructure and facilities for people with disabilities or disabilities (parking, toilets and wheelchair paths) have been improved
- through safety measures and repeated communication and information about the behavior and whereabouts of the large grazers the resistance to these animals among some of the visitors and residents has been decreased
Results so far: - Introduction of European bison, tauros and Exmoor ponies in 2016 in the southern part of De Maashorst. Large grazers have been living in the northern part of De Maashorst (Herperduin) since 1996.
- Land acquisition and nature development with the opening of the ecoduct that connects the north with the south in 2019. In 2020 the nature core area is about 1250 ha.
- Creating a network of Maashorst rangers (volunteers) who give excursions and keep an eye on the herds.
- Cooperation between municipalities to increase surveillance in the area
- First bison transport in 2020 from Maashorst to Slikken van Heen-Zeeland within the Netherlands.
- Recreation in the natural shell is supported with amenities such as signposted routes, benches and parking spaces. In recent years, new routes and dog walking areas have also been constructed here. Existing routes in the nature center have remained accessible
- An evaluation of the large grazers took place in 2020. The effect of these animals on nature development and the public's perception of safety was investigated. In 2021 we will take the first safety precautions.
Exchange
Inspirational value: Recovering natural system, continuing the development towards natural forest, allowing natural processes to take place as far as possible, design of a large grazing area with grazers specifically chosen for the desired landscape formation and desired recreation. minimizing human activity from nature management (in time and as much as possible), room for recreation.
Experience you would like to share: Interaction of bison exmoor pony's and tauros, interaction of large grazers and public, effect of large grazers on vegetation types and experience in building a corral for bison.
Experience you would like to gain: In addition to communication and information, what else can we do to ensure that society accepts the great grazers and that the coexistence of humans and animals is promoted? What ideas are other areas applying to create local pride, ownership and responsibility for wildlife among landowners, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders of the area?
De Maashorst
Member of:
European Wildlife Bank
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