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Biodiversity increased after open sandy habitat restoration

Since 2012, the EU project Sandlife has worked to restore open sandy habitats in southern Sweden. Overgrown environmentally-protected areas, known as Natura 2000 areas, on sandy land in Skåne, Halland and Öland, have been opened up to become more accessible to both the public and rare plants and animals. The first results are now being presented and they are positive. The initiative has benefitted many insects, including several endangered species.
insect
Photo: Pål Axel Olsson

Pål Axel Olsson, professor at the Department of Biology in Lund, Sweden, is responsible for the follow-up and monitoring of the project. He says that the restoration entailed removing the foreign species of mountain pine and Japanese rose, and creating open sand patches in dune environments along the coast and sandy grasslands inland.

The results of last year’s inventories are presented this week in connection with Sandlife’s international closing conference in Kristianstad.

plant in sand
Photo: Pål Axel Olsson

814 insect species were recorded during the inventory, of which 61 were endangered. Among the most interesting species are the tiger beetle wasp, the sand wasp, the Halictus leucaheneus bee, the Osmia maritima bee and the small emerald moth.

Removing pine trees from sand dune environments has benefitted endangered bird species such as the nightjar and the tawny pipit. The removal has given way to endangered moths and species that specialise in open sandy habitats.

Bees and other hymenoptera have benefited greatly from more exposed patches of sand in dunes and grasslands. It has particularly helped endangered species and hymenoptera that are predators or parasites. According to Pål Axel Olsson, the sand patches have established a more complete hymenoptera society. In addition, many beetles have utilised and benefited from the open sand patches.

Sandy land, Falsterbo
Photo: Pål Axel Olsson

Even though the project started as late as 2012, the biodiversity in the southern Swedish open sandy habitats has increased.

“It is clear that many insects react quickly and benefit even from very early successional stages”, concludes Pål Axel Olsson.

Sandlife is a collaboration between Lund University, Kristianstads Vattenrike and the county councils of Skåne, Halland and Kalmar. The project’s international closing conference will be held in Kristianstad on 22–24 May. 

Jan Olsson

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