27 February 2019

First Smart Park in Europe

Dutch National Park Zuid-Kennemerland is the first nature reserve in Europe that is equipped with a Smart Parks network. By using smart sensor technology, administrator PWN can now gather more information about the behaviour of large grazers. This knowledge helps with complicated management issues and contributes to a sustainable balance between nature, grazer, and recreation.

In the much-visited dune area several large grazers, such as the European bison, highland cattle and fallow deer play an important role in the landscape. The grazers prevent the dunes from becoming dense and leave room for vulnerable species such as the dune pansy and the dune pearl fern.

Insights into movement and behaviour

Insight into the movements and behaviour of these animals can be used to shape the management more smartly. An essential part is to see how the free flow of the animals works alongside the visiting public in one of the Netherlands busiest recreational areas. Thanks to the Smart Parks network and the use of sensors that are cheaper and more energy-efficient than the current GPS collars, more animals can be monitored over a more extended period.

 

The Smart Park uses smart sensor technology to gather information for the improvement of nature conservation and management.

Development of applications

Environmental scientist Dr Joris Cromsigt of Utrecht University says: "Utrecht University contributes in developing applications of the Smart Parks technology for research as well as management of large grazers In the NPKZ. This new technology allows us to look at interactions between humans and animals in a novel way. The technology will hopefully become the basis of innovative wildlife management aimed at smarter control of the behaviour of animals and humans."

The Netherlands as trial location

Myrthe Fonck, Nature Consultant PWN: "This innovation directly serves our management question, but we also contribute to the development of smart technologies. By now having a trial location in the Netherlands, the technology can develop even better, and ultimately also contribute to wildlife protection in Africa. That sounds far away, but that is a realistic result, and I am very proud of that."

Phone alert

In the future, PWN also wants to investigate whether visitors can receive an alert on their phone if, for example, there are bison in the vicinity of a bicycle or walking path. This can prevent unwanted, unexpected encounters and thus conflicts between humans and animals.

Collaboration

The Smart Parks network in Zuid-Kennemerland is the result of a collaboration between PWN, Utrecht University (Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development) and Smart Parks. Also, camping De Lakens and circuit Zandvoort have participated in the construction of the network free of charge.

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