Oostvaarderplassen, The Netherlands



Vera has been heavily involved in Oostvaardersplassen, a 6,000ha nature reserve in the Netherlands which has been stocked with red deer and other animal species considered to be the best replacements for the extinct aurochs - Heck Cattle (B. taurus) – and prehistoric horses, e.g.  Konik Ponies (E. caballus).

These herbivores have been left to regulate themselves, largely without human intervention, under a system of what has come to be known as ‘naturalistic grazing’.  When red deer die, their carcasses are left and these have become an important source of food for the white-tailed eagles that moved into the reserve in 2006 and have subsequently been breeding in the area.  Certainly biodiversity within the reserve has increased and it has become a haven for wildlife and an influential exemplar of conservation management. 

The problem with the ‘naturalistic grazing’ practiced at Oostvaardersplassen is that there are no predators which must surely be viewed as an equally important part of a functioning ecosystem.