Nature park Loonse en Drunense Duinen is a nature reserve and a National Park, as well as, a Natura 2000 protected habitat area. Natura 2000 is a network of protected areas in the European Union. The park is located north of Tilburg and has an approximate area of 4000 hectares. The park is managed and monitored by the organization Natuurmonumenten, who is responsible for the state of the park.
The park is characterized by the dune areas that are present, these areas with sandy soil and nutrient-poor vegetation are becoming rarer in The Netherlands and in Europe in general. This is the result of natural succession and may also be caused by deposition of nutrients and other pollutants. These sand dunes are sometimes referred to the deserts of the north. The area is so special because of the plant and animal species it supports. Some of the species found in the park are Badgers, which is the largest predator in Netherlands, lizards, many birds, and insects. Since desert-like areas are rare in North-Western Europe, the dunes are a Natura 2000 area, nature reserve, and a National Park.
The vision for the future for this area is an increase in drift sand area, as well as an increase in coniferous forest. Currently, the amount of vegetation in the park is growing at dangerous rates, which is likely caused by nitrogen deposition. Nitrogen deposition is caused by several causes like transport, industry, and agriculture. As shown in RIVM (The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) maps, NO2 air concentration is closely related to distance from roads, likely causing more nitrogen deposition closer to roads. Nitrogen and other nutrients can cause the growth of health, other plants, and trees. This succession is not desired in the Loonse en Drunense Duinen, as it is a unique area, with species of plants and animals only living in these special conditions. This nitrogen deposition is dealt with by the Province of Noord-Brabant through the PAS (Plan Aanpak Stikstof).
This project is carried out together with three clients: Natuurmonumenten, RIVM and the Province of Noord-Brabant. The main purposes of the project are to come up with a suitable management and monitoring strategy for the park and to visualize the problem using a map. Currently, the park is managed by Natuurmonumenten, with monitoring being done once every 6 years.