The sand dunes

The dunes along the west coast of Jutland are considered indigenous nature. The windblown landscape seems monotonous at first glance, but there is a surprisingly big difference between the outer dunes found along the shore and the older dunes several kilometers inland. Sand drift and floods hold major challenges to plant and animal life in the dunes of the front row. In the second row deep gouges, created by storms, provide lee and open sections of sand which can become quite hot on a summer day. In turn the nights are cool, because there is nothing to retain the heat. Only the most resistant plants can withstand the extreme temperature fluctuations.

Further inland is the calmer and more stable dune heathland. Perhaps fresh water flows here, but both sand and water here are very poor in nutrients. For example the chalk from seashells that the plants in the outer dunes benefit from, have been leached before reaching the inland dune heathlands. Only frugal plant species can live here. Each species have adapted specifically to the environment in the dunes they inhabit.

 

 

The dune plantation

150 years ago western Jutland war nearly treeless. Heath and sand dunes stretched as far as the eye could see. Sand was blown over the land by the western winds and threatened the livelihood of the local population. The sand drift was finally stalled by establishing plantations, which today cover the dunes.

With the transformation from heath to conifer plantation certain animals have disappeared while others have moved in. The black grouse has become extinct in Denmark because of its dependency on great open heathland. In turn the red deer has become renowned to the area. The conifer has also brought in new species of birds and fungi. Nature responds to the changes we bring about. Sand drift is no longer a problem, but it has become necessary to manage the conifer plantations to prevent their expansion. The indigenous heath is home to rare species of both plants and animals, which are vulnerable to overgrowth. Fallen and dead trees are left on the ground because they contribute to a more natural forest environment with a diversity of birds, insects and fungi.

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