LIFE Hedeprojektet

The present project aims to restore some of Denmark’s large areas of heathland

Restoration of Atlantic heaths and inland dunes in Denmark

The heathland habitat types of Europe and Denmark are considered to be vulnerable and to some extent threatened habitat types. In the latest evaluation (2007) of the conservation status of Annex I habitat types in Denmark 5 of the targeted habitat types in the project proposal are evaluated having unfavourable conservation status and one with unknown conservation status.

The controlled burning of heathland is used as a conservation tool.

Heathland threats

Several circumstances influence the conservation status of the heath land habitats in an unfavourable way. Airborne fertilization and attacks from the Heather Beetle (Lochmaea suturalis) is the reason for overgrowth with grasses at the expense of the characteristic heath land scrubs resulting in a major loss of biodiversity.
The wet and dry heath land habitat types furthermore suffer from accumulation of organic materials / nutrients which starts a vicious circle since the damaging Heather Beetle exactly winters in the peat layer. Overgrowth with woody species is part of the natural succession of all of the habitats, but it is accelerated because of abandonment of pastoral systems. Especially the wet heathland habitat type suffers from fragmentation and bad hydrological regimes.

Project aims

The present project aims to restore some of Denmark’s large areas of heathland before it’s too late. An urgent and comprehensive effort is imperative in order to reverse the trend of deterioration and the targeted heath land habitat types to achieve a good conservation status. This will be achieved through restoring old habitats of heath land and creating new habitats nearby.
For this project 6 Sites of Community Importance is selected, covering a project site surface of 6566 ha. 8 Different conservation actions are planned at an area of ha of 2304 ha. More actions might take place at the same area.

Heather flowers in August.

Expected results (outputs and quantified achievements):

  • Clearing of woody species on 142 ha existing and potential heathland habitats
  • Removal of upper peat soil layer on 134 ha existing and potential heathland habitats
  • Milling of 160 ha existing and potential heath land habitats dominated by Purple Moor Grass
  • Harvest of the heath land vegetation on 386 ha existing and potential heathland habitats
  • Controlled burning on 578 ha existing and potential heathland habitats
  • Historically heath land cultivation on 11 ha potential heathland habitats
  • Acquisition of 60 cattle and establishment of grazing on 659 ha existing and potential heathland habitats
  • Restoration of natural hydrology affecting an area of 17 ha of existing and potential heathland habitats
  • Restoration and improvement of potential and existing breeding habitats of Wood Sandpiper and Nightjar.
New heather plants appearing a few months after a controlled burning.

Project status

The project have ended as per 31. December 2016.

The project's final seminar was held September 15th to 16th 2016 with more than 80 participants.

As part of the project a handbook for management of heathlands has been produced

A summary and other material from the seminar, as well as the handbook for management of the heathlands is available for download here.

A part of Natura 2000 and the EU LIFE+ programme

The area is a part of Natura 2000 - an ecological network of protected areas within the European Union

Read more about Natura 2000 here and on the EU’s official Natura 2000 website.


The project is funded by EU LIFE+ and the Nature Agency.