Wageningen - Noldus and the Dutch nature conservation organization Ark Foundation signed a sponsorship agreement. Noldus sponsors the research of Ark in nature reserves by providing software and a computer for student volunteers who observe grazers in the Rhine floodplains. They work with The Observer and Pocket Observer, which runs on a Workabout provided by co-sponsor Psion.
Ark is an innovative organization that helped coin the unique Dutch concept of ‘nature development’. Marginal farmland along the great rivers is given back to nature, even in densely populated areas. But not after first removing clay layers, which increases the water carrying capacity of the rivers, and benefits the brick industry. The result is a chain of varied wetlands that are home to many species of plants, birds and animals.
The new nature reserves are grazed by herds of cattle and horses that experience as little human interference as possible. Research focuses on ecological processes: how do grazers interact, and what is their influence on the landscape? Preliminary results show that their behavior and that of the resident beavers leads to dramatic changes. The beavers cut trees, cattle open up the dense shrub vegetation to nibble on the twigs of fallen trees and prepare in this way small open grasslands where horses can feed and shelter.