The aim of this field trip is to show the effectiveness of ecological corridors and wildlife crossing structures as a mean to reconnect natural habitats and strengthen wildlife populations. The field trip will bring you to the Veluwe in the central part of the Netherlands. The Veluwe, of which almost 90.000 ha is designated as Natura 2000 area, is the largest terrestrial nature reserve in northwest-Europe. The Veluwe consists largely of forests and heathland. Fragmentation by roads, railways and fences is a major threat. Recreation, agriculture and urban sprawl are additional threats to the natural values of the area. In 1988 the first two wildlife overpasses were constructed across motorway A50. Later more green bridges followed: currently nine green bridges have been built in the area, besides numerous wildlife underpasses. Coordinated defragmentation increased the connectivity on the Veluwe.

Until recently, a dense infrastructure network divided the Veluwe in a northern and southern section. In 2013 two major land owners, the National Forest Service and Het Loo Royal Estate, urged for the construction of additional wildlife crossing structures in order to restore the coherence between both sections, resulting in four additional green bridges to be constructed in 2017 and 2018. These structures will not only connect the Veluwe at large, but are also important structures within the local network of ecological corridors that connect unique open landscapes of former drift sands and heathlands in the Central Veluwe. In this way they are crucial for the protection of biodiversity, including Natura 2000 species and habitats.

The field trip will clearly show the functioning of these ecological corridors and crossing structures, but maybe more importantly, it will emphasize that crossing structures are only one element in reconnecting habitats. It will also show what is needed to not only help large mammals across, but small animal species as well, such as reptiles, amphibians and insects. The field trip will illustrate that the green bridges are more than just an infrastructural work. We will show you how habitat has been developed on top and what specific measures can be designed for small animals.

Time of departure:    8:30 h

Time of return:          18:15

Duration:                    9:45 h

Transportation by:     bus, foot

Capacity:                     50

Key words:                  regional defragmentation, green bridge, wildlife underpass, fencing

Organization:              Het Loo Royal Estate, in collaboration with the National Forest Service.