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Animals and plants in Almindingen

Animals

The birds

Almindingen is rich in all the common woodland birds, such as chaffinches, blackbirds and songbirds. In addition, it is a breeding ground for raven and several birds of prey, such as goshawk. Others, such as osprey and sea eagles, are winter visitors. The bogs are breeding grounds for grey geese, cranes, bitterns and many more. The best bird-watching locations are Bastemose and Udkæret

Wetland wildlife

The bogs and lakes are home to several species of amphibians and reptiles, such as adders, grass snakes and newts, just as many of the bogs are home to medicinal leeches. A host of insects live by the water, such as the blue damselfly, which may be spotted in large numbers over the Læsåen during most of the summer. Or the rare green mosaic dragonfly, which lays its eggs on the water soldier, an aquatic plant which is found in Bastemose, Græssøen and Borgesø. The waters of Bastemose and a couple of other bogs are home to the rare giant diving beetle.

The butterflies

Butterflies may be found in the glades of the woods from the time when first brimstone butterflies find their wings in early spring. In the course of the summer, most of the known species, such as small tortoiseshell, red admiral, silver-washed fritillary and peacock butterfly follow suit. Of the rarer species, high brown fritillary and lesser marbled fritillary may be spotted from June until early September and, if one is in luck, also the cryptic wood white; however, one would have to be in luck as, although previously abundant in Almindingen, it has not been spotted since 2004.

The absence of predators - an advantage to birds and deer

Raadyr

The wildlife in Almindingen is also characterized by what is not there: Bornholm lacks many of the common Danish carnivores. For unknown reasons, stoats and marten disappeared many hundreds or even thousands of years ago. And foxes died out during a scabies epidemic in the 1980s. Because Bornholm is an island, new animals only rarely immigrate on their own account. This means that, today, the largest original "carnivore" is the insectivorous hedgehog! Almindingen is, however, also home to feral domesticated cats as well as mink, which have escaped from fur farms.

The absence of carnivores influences the rest of the wildlife: Birds nesting on the ground, like cranes, geese and waterfowl thrive without their natural enemies, and the population of deer is the densest in Denmark.

The wood tick

With the dense population of deer comes a dense population of wood ticks. The tick is often referred to Denmark's most dangerous animal because it may transmit serious diseases to humans.

Wood ticks are mites and belong to the arachnid family, just like spiders. They feed on blood from, for example, deer. When the tick needs to feed, it crawls up into tall grasses where it waits for a host animal, which it may latch onto. In the forest, the host is often a deer, however, it may also be a dog or a cat - or a human.

When the wood tick sucks blood from humans, it may transmit borrelia bacteria which may cause Lyme disease which, in turn, may cause paralysis and neuritis. The bite of the tick may also transmit a TBE virus that may cause meningitis. So, it is not entirely a joke when the tick is called Denmark's most dangerous animal.

Fortunately, you rarely fall ill, especially if you remove the tick within the first 24 hours of being bitten. It is, therefore, a good idea to check yourselves for ticks when you have been in the woods, especially if you have been moving around outside the trails.

In addition, one can choose to be vaccinated against TBE.

Learn more about the wood tick and precautions you can take

Deer and bison

For many years, the deer was the largest wild animal in Bornholm. However, in recent years, a small population of deer has arisen. It derives from animals that have escaped from farms. They live in small herds spread across the island. A voluntary "conservation" with very limited hunting of the deer ensures that the population in Bornholm, and thus also in Almindingen, develops.

Today the largest animal in the forest is the European bison, which lives in a fenced-in part of the area around ​​Svinemosen.

The first seven animals were brought here Poland and put out on grass in 2012 and the first calf was born already the following year.

Read more about the Bison project (in Danish)

Bats

Almindingen is the home to several species of bats, amongst others the whiskered bat, which in Denmark is found only in Bornholm - where it is commonplace, however - and Bechstein's bats, which is so rare that it is considered an endangered species. It lives in only few places in Europe, one of them being the old oak forest of Ekkodalen.

Plants

The old moor, natural forest and forestry

Almindingen is a natural forest area and has been more or less permanently forested since sometime after the last ice age. However, when the forest supervisor Hans Rømer started replanting Almindingen in the early 1800's, the forest had shrunk to only about 165 hectares in the area around Christianshøj. It featured oak, probably durmast oak, as well as hornbeam which, despite its name, belongs to the hazel family.

The rest of the "forest" consisted of heather and juniper, what was known as moor. The moor was the result of hundreds of years of felling of trees for wood and timber, and of the fact that the peasants used the area to put the livestock out on grass for the summer. Enebærskoven is a part of the old moor, which has been preserved.

The replanting was done according to the German model. The method was called "systematic forestry" and the idea was to divide the forest into smaller areas of trees of the same age and the same species. This made forestry more rational, as entire areas could be felled at once from one end, instead of using the old-fashioned way where the forestry owner would judge when to cut down individual trees in the confusion of old, young and in-between trees of different species, of which a natural forest consists.

The systematic forest has been the ideal in Almindingen and in Denmark's forestry industry, generally, up to the turn of the millennium, when the focus in the state-owned forests began to shift from commercial timber production to more natural forestry.

In addition to Enebærskoven and the area around Christianshøj, which are remnants of moor and the original nature forest, respectively, the oldest parts of the forest originate from the time of Hans Rømer. These include, amongst others, the durmast oaks on Ekkodalsklippen and the beech forest at Koldekilde.

Besides oak and beech, Rømer and his successors also planted birch, ash, hazel and various conifers. Throughout the 20th century, the conifer has been the most widely used forest tree, and, for this reason, Almindingen comprises large areas of common spruce. However, common spruce is not native to the Danish nature and is virtually without value as a habitat for insects, birds and fungi. The oak, on the other hand, has more than 1,000 species attached to it.

As the common spruce is cut down, the felled areas will be largely left to self-seed and natural forestry, and the individual marking of trees for harvesting will be reintroduced. Over time, this will create a much more natural and abundant forest.

Read more about Natural Forestry here (in Danish)

HvidAnemonePlants of the woodland floor

The characteristic plants of the woodland floor include the great starwort, wood anemone, lily of the valley and various ferns. You may also find the rarer common club moss and stiff club moss.

The rare plants of Bastemose 

Around Bastemose, where the surface of the water is dominated by reeds, slender sedge, water solider and white water lilies, there are several more or less rare species. For example, the orchids broad-leaved marsh orchid, early purple orchis and common twayblade, in addition to the carnivorous plant common butterwort and the very rare round-leaved wintergreen.

Bastemose

Edible plants

There are many edible plants in Almindingen. Easy to find and recognize are, for example, blueberries, raspberries and wild strawberries, as well as hazelnut, wood sorrel and ramson.