Effective restoration of herb- and fauna-rich grasslands in dry sandy areas

In this research project we seek an effective manner of transforming species poor, dry grasslands into herb- and fauna-rich grasslands. On the basis of this research, and in combination with existing knowledge and practical experience, we will develop recommendations on how and where well-developed herb- and fauna-rich grasslands can be most effectively created.

Grasses dominate these dry grasslands despite management that aims at removing nutrients

Within the Dutch Nature Network (NNN) herb- and fauna-rich grasslands accounts for considerable acreage, particularly in dry sandy areas. These ecosystems are therefore of policy importance, while they are also of particular ecological value. However, the development of most of these grasslands is currently halted and settled in the grass phase. They are dominated for the most part by meadow soft grass (Holcus lanatus) and/or commen bent (Agrostis capillaris). These grasslands harbour few herb species and have low diversity levels in general, which makes them of little value for fauna.

Temporary ploughing to break grass domination

In three experimental areas in the Netherlands we are studying whether two types of temporary ploughing – 1) for rye cultivation and 2) for black fallow (variant with maximum mechanical control) – can bring about the restoration of the herb and fauna diversity of these grasslands.

The objective of these measures is the restoration of the herb diversity in these dry grasslands. This would make them attractive again for a large number of insects, so that species diversity would also be restored in these grasslands.