Plagsel accelerates heathland development


Restoration of the heathland is the goal of the redesign of the Noordenveld. Excavating the top layer full of nutrients from agriculture is therefore necessary, as heath only develops in nutrient-poor soil. But experience from other projects has taught that a quick return of the heath is not guaranteed. To accelerate the process, it was decided to spread out ‘plagsel’ from the adjacent heathland on the bare soil. This was done for the first time in the autumn of 2011 and the first results are now visible.

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Experiences from other areas show that the soil layers that are exposed during the excavation barely contain germinative heath seeds. The reclamation of the site by the heath is entirely dependent on the distribution of fresh seeds from the immediate vicinity. However, the seeds of most heath plant types don’t get any further than a few meters from the parent plant. That means it would take decades for the Noordenveld to be covered with dense heath vegetation. To accelerate the development, Dwingelderveld chose to spread sods from adjacent heathland areas. Now, heath vegetation isn’t the same everywhere. Different plants grow on wet heathlands that do on dry heathlands. Therefore, there are distinct types of ‘plagsel and each part of the site received a matching type. ‘Plagsel’ with a high content of sphagnum was spread around the marshes and in the prospective trenches.

First effects

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The ‘plagsel’ is distributed by a tractor with a manure spreader. In October 2011, the sites were 'sprinkled' that were excavated at that time. The first effects of that were visible a year later. Young seedlings of various heathland types can be found. Of course, this includes heather and heath. Plant types such as sundew, blue sedge, and Heath Rush also germinated in large numbers. Tormentil and gorse appear here and there, and a single plant of white beak sedge was found. The effect of the spreading of ‘plagsel’ varies greatly from location to location. In some places, heathers germinated in droves, and in others no heath plants are to be seen. This perfectly fits the pursuit of developing a variation in species composition, density, and height of the vegetation. In October 2012, ‘plagsel’ was once again spread across the land that was excavated in the intermediary years. The last parts of the site are to be completed in 2013.