From 2014 to 2019, the Danish Nature Agency, in collaboration with Frederikshavn Municipality, have implemented a number of initiatives at the Skagens Odde headland with funding from the EU’s financial instrument LIFE+ Nature. The aim of the initiatives is to contribute to preserving and improving the unique coastal nature of the headland, with its sea dunes, decalcified fixed dunes and beach-ridge plain landscape of ridges and hollows. These landscape features are of high conservation value, nationally as well as internationally.


Projecttype LIFE+ and Natura 2000
Period August 2014 - December 2019
Status Finish 31.12.2019
Partners EU LIFE+ og Frederikshavn Municipality
Budget EURO 2.873.843

Project results

The many of the project´s results together have contributed to ensuring and improving the light demanding nature habitats for rare animals and plants on Skagen’s Odde. 

  • Closed / regulated 21.3 kilometers of ditches
  • Restored natural hydrology in approx. 765 ha.
  • Clearing 3,027 ha of unwanted conifers in open, dune habitats.
  • Clearance of 46.3 hectares of plantation and converted to light demanding dune habitats.
  • Purchase of 72 ha. land laid out for future nature.
  • Combated Japanese Rose on 314 ha.
  • Combated Japanese knotweed of 0.1 ha.
  • Establishing of 3 scrapes for Bittern. In a total of 3.5 ha.
  • Controlled burning of 367 hectares with busk grass
  • Establishing new fences for cattle grazing for grazing on 256 hectares
  • Purchase of 35 livestock loaned for grazing in nature areas.
  • Establishing networks for cattle breeders.
  • Expanded and improved several habitats.
  • Produced a 38 min. long video film about nature at Skagen’s Odde and the LIFE project
  • Established Info-Center at Grenen presenting the LIFE-project and the nature at Skagen´s Odde.
  • Setting up 10 information boards in the project area.
  • Creating and maintaining a project website.
  • Organizing 45 guided tours in the project area.
  • Final Project Reporting as well as arraignment of an international Final Seminar



Within the past 100 years, people have been draining the land in large parts of the project area. Drainage has primarily been achieved by digging ditches so the land can be used for farming. This has had a negative impact on the hydrology of the area. As farming subsided, this draining of the land paved the way for the invasion of undesirable tree species. Restoring the area’s natural hydrology will prevent the landscape from drying out in the summer and also counteract the overgrowth of trees. Specific initiatives will be implemented based on preliminary hydrological studies to determine the consequences of filling in drainage ditches.

For many years, people planted vegetation primarily in the form of hedgerows and forest plantations. The most common tree species were non-indigenous species such as mountain pine, lodgepole pine and Sitka spruce. These species are now spreading naturally in the unique, sensitive natural areas. In order to preserve the dune landscape, the objective is to remove these coniferous species and curb their continued spread across the sensitive habitat sites. 

Japanese rose, which is considered an invasive species, is spreading rapidly in the areas along the west coast of Jutland, including at Skagens Odde, where it is threatening the indigenous plant community on decalcified fixed dunes and sea dunes. The presence of Japanese rose throughout the project site will be mapped using infrared spectrometer measurements from aerial photos. Once this has been done, targeted and effective clear-cutting work can be started.

Read more about Japanese rose in the Encyclopaedia of Species

Nitrogen deposition from air pollution has been occurring all over Denmark for many years. Nitrogen has been converted from a gaseous form into forms that can be readily absorbed by plants.This has resulted in an undesirable situation with a relatively unnaturally high nutrient level in the decalcified fixed dunes. The nutrient level has changed the flora, and in many places, heather is being displaced by grasses that choke out the indigenous, predominant vegetation of dwarf-shrubs. By burning the grasses, it is possible to remove and return significant amounts of nitrogen in the cycle, between vegetation and the soil to the air (which already consists of 78% nitrogen). Controlled burning is expected to restore the indigenous dwarf-shrub vegetation (heather, cross-leaved heath, crowberry, lingonberry and more).

Meadow areas have previously been grazed by livestock in the project area. Reintroduction of grazing would have great ecological restoration value for the meadow flora in these areas and be of value to the efforts to keep the establishment of tree growth in check. Grazing will therefore be reintroduced over an area of 200 hectares in order to secure habitats for the endemic Vendsyssel orchid and other species.

På Skagens Odder er der på en række lokaliteter et stort publikumspres. Her kan nævnes Råbjerg Mile, Grenen og ved Kandestederne. I forbindelse med LIFE-projektet vil man genskabe yngleforhold for rørdrum og tinksmed. Disse arter er sårbare overfor menneskers færdsel i naturen. Derfor iværksættes en informationskampagne, der sigter på at informere publikum om, hvordan man mest hensigtsmæssigt kan undgå at være til ulempe for naturen samtidig med, at man kan få unikke oplevelser i en storslået natur.  


Final report is out now     Final report

Read Layman`s Report


Is there going to be a lake here?

No - it is not. But...    Read more  


Water all over!  (december 2019)   Read more


Final phase and digging work on Hulsig hede (november 2019)

Read more...  


Fighting the Japanese rose (August 2019)   Read more....  


New view of the Grenen (Dec. 2018)  Read more.....  


Summer holiday in nature restoration on Grenen?  Read more.....

Habitat types and species


Grå klitter, EU kode 2130

This type of dune is typically located on the landward side of the white dunes and is partly stabilised by grasses and herbaceous vegetation. This dune type has been awarded special priority with regard to conservation efforts by the EU, which is indicated by the asterisk after the natural habitat type code. The grey dunes in the project area are part of a mosaic of habitats with decalcified fixed dunes, humid dune slacks and dunes with willow, buckthorn and juniper shrub. The grey dunes are often located on the south side of the west-east aligned dunes. There are two subtypes in the project area: calcareous dunes with grassland cover (green dunes) and grey dunes. The calcareous dunes are dominated by herbaceous vegetation and lichen and mosses. This type of dune is found especially at Skiverbakken, where the predominant plant species is bloody geranium, and along the west coast of Jutland between Kandestederne and Skagen Klitplantage. Burnet rose and blue hair grass are two other species linked to the calcareous dunes. The decalcified grey dunes, which are more eroded and calcium-poor than the calcareous dunes, are more widespread in the area. The grey dunes are often located on the south side of the west-east aligned dunes. The grey dunes are dominated by grasses such as grey hair-grass, and by lichen, but wild pansy and sheep’s bit scabious also catch the eye. The lichen colonies within the project area are well-established and include many species of reindeer lichen. Cetraria nivalis (snow cup lichen), which is considered a relic of the Ice Age, can also be found in various places across the area. The grey types are important for the area’s large population of sand lizards and a number of insect species such as the wart-biter (grasshopper) and the dune chafer (beetle), as well as a number of red-listed butterflies such as the Niobe fritillary. The stone flat or stone desert is a special version of grey dune. Stone flats are areas where the wind has blown away all of the sand. These areas are home to unique colonies of lichen vegetation on and in between the loose rocks, for example witch’s hair lichen (Alectoria sarmentosa), which has one of its few habitats in Denmark between the rocks on these stone flats. The decalcified dunes more commonly become overgrown with grasses, which form a dense vegetative layer. The typical grasses are wavy hair grass and wood small-reed. Other threats addressed in the project include preventing the areas from becoming overgrown with non-indigenous tree species such as lodgepole pine and mountain pine.

There are around 1,600 hectares of grey dunes and calcareous dunes at Natura2000 site 2 and around 80 hectares at Natura2000 site 1. 



The decalcified fixed dunes within the project area are typically dominated by the dwarf-species crowberry or cross-leaved heath, but there are also areas with some heather. This dune type has been awarded special priority with regard to conservation efforts by the EU, which is indicated by the asterisk after the habitat type code. Areas dominated by crowberry and heather are typically found on the north side of the many north-west aligned dunes, because here the dune surface is less exposed to the sun and therefore more humid. Cross-leaved heath is more common on the large flat areas that retain humidity throughout the year. Some are flooded in the winter. Both the wet and the dry parts of the habitat type are threatened by the overgrowth of non-indigenous conifers in particular, and the wet areas are at risk of drying out. Monitoring has revealed that the cross-leaved heath is in partial decline in the area.

Round-leaved wintergreen is common in this habitat type, which is also home to many insects.

There are around 1,300 hectares of this habitat type at Natura2000 site 2 and around 130 hectares at Natura 2000 site 1.

Fugtige klitlavninger

Humid dune slacks are defined more by their geology than their botany. This type of dune is found within the project area at all levels of humidity, from almost dry to lakes, and from almost free of vegetation to almost fully covered by forest. Most of the humid dune slacks on the heaths of Råbjerg Hede and Hulsig Hede were created in dry years when the wind blew away all of the sand. One of the biggest dune slacks is the flat at Råbjerg Mile, which is home to a number of otherwise rare, small plants such as marsh clubmoss, pillwort and water-purslane. In wet years the natterjack toad breeds here.

Grenen is growing towards the north and the east, and a development (succession) can be seen from the emergence of new dune slacks to their maturation. The new dune slacks are home to many interesting species such as orchids and Arctic eyebright. Arctic eyebright is endemic to Denmark, i.e. it grows only in Denmark and by and large only at Skagens Odde. The older dune slacks become overgrown with reeds or trees such as willow and common alder.

This habitat type is threatened by inappropriate hydrology, in particular.

There are around 600 hectares of this habitat type at Natura 2000 site 2 and around 260 hectares at Natura 2000 site 1.


The Eurasian bittern belongs to the heron family. It breeds in reed beds and stays hidden there most of the time. However, the species may forage in more open areas during the night. Eurasian bitterns eat amphibians and small fish. The reed bed must have water at the bottom for the bittern to choose it as its breeding habitat. The drying out of reed beds is therefore a problem for this species.

From 2001 to 2004, the species could be heard at a suitable breeding location in two places on Hulsig Hede. One of these slacks has now become overgrown and may also have been affected by water extraction. The project will clear the vegetation in this area and water extraction will be reduced. Overall, this will benefit the species. These general hydrological initiatives will also benefit nature, especially in terms of foraging. Bitterns will also have access to better conditions at the Milesøerne and Råbjerg Sø lakes, where the species has previously been observed. 
There are also usually one or two breeding pairs at Grenen. The project does not include any actions for the species here, as Grenen is not a bird protection area and Eurasian bitterns are not under threat there.

Read more about the species in the Danish Nature Agency’s encyclopaedia of species: 


The wood sandpiper is a wading bird. It breeds in heather bogs. It was previously common on heaths throughout Denmark but is now primarily observed on dune locations which are less overgrown than the species’ previously preferred inland locations. The vast majority of breeding pairs are found in Thy. The wood sandpiper prefers small lakes in the dune slacks and humid decalcified fixed dunes. It avoids areas with trees where crows and birds of prey keep a lookout. They bred on Hulsig Hede until around 1990, although one to three breeding pairs were observed trying to breed after clearing work in area in 2004. Since then, there have been several sightings of the birds singing and appearing to have become sedentary. There have been no sightings of birds with young in this area. The above sightings were made in a total of five locations within the area, but not every year and only at two locations.
The wood sandpiper has also been observed resting in the area during its migration to and from Norway and Sweden, where the species breeds in larger numbers. However, the breeding pairs are the target of this project.
The species will benefit from clearing work and hydrological initiatives.

Read more about the species in the Danish Nature Agency’s encyclopaedia of species:


Project timeline

The LIFE project has now entered the last year. In the original plan, a project period of 5 years is defined to achieve the objectives described. In a number of areas, we are far, and in other areas, we are busy.

  • The hydrological recovery continues. This year, the main effort will be the establishment of 16 adjustable stems in primarily the Tranerenden and connected ditches. Negotiations with a few individual landowners must be resumed, as it is might possible to be able to close more ditches locally than planned at the beginning of the year.
  • Clearing of invasive, undesirable tree species - especially the conifers Pinus contorta, Pinus mugo, Picea sitchensis et al. - continues with unabated strength. Approximately 1,000 ha where planned cleared as an action funded by the Rural District Program. The reimbursement opportunities have been changed, which means that the opportunities for these clearings have been greatly reduced. Instead, the LIFE co-financed clearing operation can take over a substantial part of these clearing operations. Thanks to the possibility of selling wood chips to heating plants, it brings back a lot of money to the project for additional clearings, which where foreseen to be done by funding from the Rural District Program. An extra clearing operation has been included to the project by adding Råbjerg Hede of approx. 375 ha. When the planned clearings in 2019 are completed, in the areas south and west of Råbjerg Mile, approx. 1,000 ha of coherent heath areas has been cleared of invasive and undesirable tree species for the benefit of the light-open heath nature.
  • Control of Rosa rugosa continues. For almost all occurrences, the first clearing have been done. Now the clearing of the regrowth is a recurring process. In many places, there are now clear signs of a weakening of the Rosa rugosa.
  • Planning of scrapes for Botaurus stellaris and amphibians, are now ready for author treatment. Scrapes are expected to be conducted in the areas: 
    •         Kildeklit  - South of Skagen Klitplantage
    •         Hvide Klit - South of Bunken Plantage
    •         Råbjerg Hede - South of Råbjerg Stene
  • Cattle fences for grazing now have been established on 93% of the planned areas. It is expected, that fencing and grazing of approx. 30 ha will be added, and fencing establishment of approx. 30 ha funded by the Rural District Program.
  • Information campaign on appropriate behavior in sensitive natural areas continues. The idea is that the information should reach out to campsites, hotels, guesthouses, schools etc. There will also be a couple of events in Skagen Cinema, where the action's natural film "Skagen Odde - a wilderness in Denmark" is displayed, and subsequently with debate, and it ends with a guided tour on the Grenen.
  • Wood cleaning in the project area continues. The huge massive clearings - Grenen, Tornbakke Rimme, plantations on Hulsig Hede and Råbjerg Hede - are now almost completed. Now, there are, in particular, clearings of occurrence of scattered conifers on open areas to be done.
  • Hydrological recovery started at the end of 2017. The first kilometer ditches on Hulsig Hede are now closed by covering with soil, so still water does not evaporate from the open ditches. After the summer holidays, the hydrological activities resume. It is estimated that it will be possible to close approx. 20 km. ditches.
  • Tranerenden in the southern part of Hulsig Hede is not to be covered, but regulated with adjustable stems so that there always can be control of the water level in the watercourse and surrounding areas. The groundwater level is monitored by using water loggers.
  • There will also be a number of landowner negotiations in 2018 on the completion of the project's removal of tree encroachment, but also for permission to close ditches. As a natural consequence, there will also be some negotiation work with authorities in relation to necessary permits and exemptions, etc.
  • Following the summer holidays, an information campaign will be continued on appropriate behavior in sensitive nature. It is thought that the information should reach campsites, hotels, boarding houses, schools, etc.
  • The project nature film has been featured on TV2 Nord Salto at the end of 2017 and has been seen by approx. 38,000 times. The film is reissued. Time not yet set.
  • Control of Japanese rose is still ongoing. The largest deposits - on the branch at Drachmann's grave and in the dunes north of Skiveren - are now well under control. No significant spread occurs, but regrowth still occurs. The gene growth is held down by crushing.
  • There are now established 5 artificial foxes earth in the project area. The purpose is to reduce the fox stock to obtain better breeding conditions for ground nesting bird. The most important species are: Wood-sandpiper and Bittern.
  • Hydrological restoration commenced
  • Completion of video about the natural landscapes in the project area
  • Burning and clear-cutting in several places
  • Control of invasive species carried out in several places
  • Preliminary hydrological studies carried out by NIRAS A/S, delivered 1 April. Discussions with landowners and specific initiatives launched. When the plans are ready, contracting work will be put out to open tender.
  • Mapping of Rosa rugosa completed and clearing commenced and will continue in 2016. Large areas with Rosa rugosa have already been cleared at Grenen/Drachmanns Grav. Clearing has been performed by repeatedly cutting back/crushing regularly throughout the summer. In other geographical areas, other methods to combat Rosa rugosa will be tested, e.g. burying and covering up.
  • Mosaic burning will be resumed as soon as the weather allows. Last year, burning was impeded by a considerable amount of water in the areas designated for burning. It was unfortunately not possible to burn more than a few hectares (around 5). We hope for better weather in the coming spring. Activity is expected to resume in March and in early April 2016.
  • Clear-cutting of trees will continue. We have cleared a stretch of almost two kilometres at Tornbakke Rimme near Hulsig. The wood stacks are now ready for chipping in early summer. In 2016, clearing work will continue primarily in the area west of Hulsig and at Grenen. The most visible clear-cutting activity will take place in the late summer.
  • The planned excavation of man-made ditches was postponed due to disagreements about hunting leases on Hulsig Hede. These disagreements have now been addressed and the Skagen & Hulsig-Råbjerg hunting associations and the Danish Inland and Coastal Hunting Association (Dansk Land- og Strandjagtforening) will resume their fox control partnership.
  • Information boards will be set up at specific locations this spring. The boards will provide information about current local activities and on the LIFE project in general.
  • The video project is ongoing and will be completed in the late summer. Bo Skelmose at Skelmose TV will produce a video about proper behaviour in environmentally sensitive natural areas. The video will be around 30 minutes long and will form a part of a behaviour campaign.
  • A monitoring programme has been set up which will monitor the impact of the project on habitat types and species. An analysis will be carried out of the project’s socio-economic impacts.
  • Restoration of natural hydrology. Based on preliminary hydrological studies to determine the consequences of filling in drainage ditches.
  • Clearing of Japanese rose (Rosa rugosa). A preliminary mapping of occurrences in the project area will form the basis for instigating clearing work.
  • Mosaic burning in dune areas. Primarily wood small-reed and waxy hair grass.
  • Clearing of tree growth, including conversion of plantations to dune heath.
  • Excavation of man-made ditches (Skagen and Hulsig-Råbjerg hunting associations) to reduce the fox population on Hulsig Hede, Råbjerg Mile and Råbjerg Hede.
  • Information boards and nature trips in the project area focusing on project actions and their objectives.
  • Monitoring the project’s impact on habitat types and species. Initial baseline monitoring will form the reference for future monitoring and measurements in the project period.   


  • LIFE+ Kick-off meeting in London
  • Landowner meetings for landowners in the project area
  • Negotiations with Skagen and Hulsig-Råbjerg hunting associations about establishing fox control in parts of the project area.   

Map of project area



Video about the project

As part of the implementation of the LIFE Hulsig Hede project, a nature film has been made which describes the measures that have been taken to mitigate the threats to the sensitive natural habitats in the project. Bo Skelmose at Skelmose TV has produced the beautiful film which lasts just over half an hour. The film will be available on DVD and marketed to educational institutions, tourism organisations and nature and wildlife associations. The film will also most probably be broadcast on the local TV station TV2Nord.

Watch the video

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Contact persons


Sisse Lindholm

Title: Nature employee
Frederikshavn Municipality
Telefon: +45 98 45 63 83

Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark

The Danish Nature Agency Vendsyssel
Telefon: +45 72 54 36 53