European bison introduction to Veluwe

  • Country:
  • Start year:
  • Location:
    Central Veluwe, The Netherlands
  • Size (ha):
  • Area Type:
  • Type of protection:
    Natura 2000 area

The project in Veluwe, The Netherlands, focuses on providing space to roam for the still endangered European bison, allowing them to play their important role in this widely known nature area, while in the same time offering nature based tourism.

European bison at Veluwe, The Netherlands. Picture by Leo Linnartz, ARK Nature


  • Habitat types: Pine forests, deciduous forest (birch, oak), grasslands, heath vegetation and sandy areas.
  • Keystone species present: Red deer and wild boar.
  • Fauna (mega) species present: Roe deer, fox and badger.
  • Fauna species reintroduced: European bison


  • Description: In 2016, after in depth preparations, including agreements with local stakeholders, a small group of European bison has been introduced into a 400 Ha area in the Veluwe nature area. The project gives this still endangered animal the chance to roam and increase in its numbers, playing a role in the overall conservation of the species. With the presence of this large grazer, the process of natural grazing is more complete. The impact of bison on the landscape is being monitored. Besides conservation efforts the project is developing nature based tourism by offering guided excursions and offering the public a unique experience to see the bison in this widely-known nature reserve.<br />
  • Aim: To enrich the Veluwe area with the endangered European bison and its effects on the landscape, making it more natural. At the same time, provide visitors with possibilities to learn and enjoy nature here.
  • Vision: Bison numbers increase with their impact on the landscape being embraced. After a positive evaluation with all stakeholders the herd is allowed to roam together with other wildlife in a larger part of the Veluwe.
  • Accomplished in 10 years from now: European bison numbers have increased into herd size with a natural consistency. Bison are now well-known in this area and coexist with other fauna as well as being enclosed in the hearts of people.
  • Uniqueness: The bison area connects to the largest sand dune of NW Europe. The relief rich area includes heath and forest stands, and is home to many species including large wildlife. European bison roams here with wild boar and red deer, as only location in the Netherlands.
  • Results so far: Successful introduction of the European bison, involvement of many volunteers playing a role in monitoring and guided excursions.
  • Flagship species: Bison
  • Other characteristics: Community involved, Eco tourism, Recreational activities, Research


  • Inspirational value: Introducing such a charismatic species like European bison to one of the Netherlands most well-known natural regions, with potential to increase bison numbers in the future to a substantial level. Since bison is still an endangered species, giving more space for them to roam is crucial. In addition, European bison adds value to the local fauna, for nature as well as for people.
  • Experience you would like to share: Prepare and introduce European bison to a very new environment, with support of local stakeholders. Successful involvement of volunteers in the project.
  • Experience you would like to gain: Maintaining a well-balanced, positive relationship with local stakeholders. Gain knowledge on the ecological impact of the presence of European bison, living with other fauna species.
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