Special Noordenveld sandbank spared
Land will be removed from fewer areas of the Noordenveld than until recently planned. The excavators will leave the highest points of the terrain untouched. This modification to the plan is the result of advice given by a team of experts, including landscape ecologist Gert Jan Baaijens of Dwingeloo. They discovered that the Noordenveld boasts a really special sandbank that deserves to remain intact.
“On the elevation map, the Noordenveld is a winding ridge visible with lateral branches on both sides. Until now, we were unsure how this came about," Baaijens explains. On the initiative of the expert team, pedological scientist Ebbing Kiestra drilled additional holes, which led to new insights. The ridge seems to date back to the last ice age and to have begun as a trickle. Baaijens explains how this is possible. "You have to imagine a polar desert where nothing grew and where sandstorms raged. And precisely the wet areas accumulated sand. Such as this little stream, which was the result of seepage of groundwater." According to Baaijens, this type of sandbank hasn’t developed as beautifully anywhere else in the Netherlands as it has here. "It is a unique monument, a fascinating testimony to how the Drenthe landscape arose. Such a monument must be respected. Fortunately, the State Forestry Commission and Natuurmonumenten noticed this and were immediately prepared to put forward their ideas about the development. For this, they deserve the highest praise.”
Mowing in lieu of digging
The modification essentially comes down to the fact that the uppermost layer of soil will be excavated from only the graben and valleys. As a result, the phosphate remains in the ground at the ridges. All the while, the phosphate – a legacy of the previous agricultural fertilizing – is precisely the main reason for excavation. The presence of phosphate is namely an impediment to the restoration of the heathland. The administrators currently take for granted the fact that they will have to mow the ridges for years in order to get rid of the phosphate. Not only is this relatively costly, in this way it will also take decades longer before vegetation-resembling heath will grow. On the other hand, the wet nature in the graben does benefit from the fact that the differences in height will be slightly larger than in the original plan. According to experts, the risk is that phosphate from the higher parts of the terrain leaches down into the valleys is slight: on higher ground the phosphate does not come into contact with groundwater.