Nature restoration in Drents-Friese Wold National Park

  • Country:
  • Start year:
    Restoration of lowland stream Vledder Aa started in 2000
  • Location:
  • Size (ha):
  • Area Type:
  • Type of protection:
    Natura 2000, Birds Directive area, core area of National Ecological Network (in Dutch: EHS)

The main objective of the project is nature restoration off the upper course of the small lowland stream de Vledder Aa, giving back a more natural course to the stream after being channelled. Stimulation for a more natural forest development is another part of the project. Natural grazing by Sayaguesa cattle is taking place and potential to reintroduce red deer, fallow deer in the future are being discussed.

Stream Vledder Aa, Drents-Friese Wold N.P.


  • Habitat types: Marshes, moorland, old oak forests<br /> (H3130, H3160, H4010, H 4030, H 7110 B, H 7150, h 9190)
  • Keystone species present: Otter
  • Fauna (mega) species present: Badger
  • Fauna species reintroduced: Sayaguesa cattle


  • Description: In the period 2000-2015 a stream restoration project was carried out allowing the ecohydrology of the source area of a lowland stream to restore. The management of the total area is focused to become a most natural landscape with Sayaguesa cattle as a natural component affecting the landscape, and in the future the advent of red deer, fallow deer and wild boar each having their own impact on the area. The last 35 years forest management focused on the transformation of the forest with share of Douglas fir and larch being transformed into native forest with birch and pine.
  • Aim: Transformation of a cultural landscape to a more natural landscape, where natural processes including natural grazing are allowed to shape the system.
  • Vision: For the next 10 years work towards clean and species-rich water in the stream, and encouraging a more natural forest development through expansion of grazing in surface as well as welcoming other species of large wild animals. All this in collaboration with Stichting Het Drentse Landschap, Staatbosbeheer en Vereniging Natuurmonumenten.
  • Accomplished in 10 years from now: The hydrology of the area is restored. The red deer, fallow deer and wild boar have been reintroduced. The Sayaguesa herd has grown in numbers and the grazed area is enlarged. The forest has a much more natural look. This project will become a local product for branding and promotion of the region.
  • Uniqueness: The successful transformation of a cultural landscape to a more natural landscape in which natural processes are allowed to take place.
  • Results so far: Through a European LIFE project work towards further recovery of natural water levels. <br /> The forestry activities are now largely stopped. <br /> A study is completed for the reintroduction of red deer, fallow deer and wild boar.
  • Flagship species: Feral cattle
  • Other characteristics: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education


  • Inspirational value: The relatively widespread restoration of the natural values and the associated natural processes. The result stands out due to increased biodiversity. The measures taken rely generally on local support.
  • Experience you would like to share: Sharing knowledge about restoration of lowland stream valleys and changes in forest management. How to use a culturally changed landscape in a more natural landscape.<br /> Changing natural grazing regime by replacing Scottish Highland cattle with Sayaguesa cattle.<br />
  • Experience you would like to gain: Experiences with reintroduction and spontaneous establishment of large wildlife, and how to deal with potential conflicts. This could include agricultural damage and casualties. Experiences with management or non management in natural forests.
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