Kennispark keeps its own biodiversity in balance thanks to falconer
Have you seen him fly over Kennispark this summer? The hawk of falconer Arjan Heetebrij has been flying – from a driving car – over the UT site regularly for several weeks now. It means that we might use more often and at several places in the area to preserve the biodiversity at Kennispark. How does that work exactly? We looked for Arjan ourselves.
In addition to his profession as a tree grower, it is mainly a hobby. He does this together with falconer Rob Poliste, owner of the company Valkenvlucht from Enschede: “We drive his bus around with a large white-tailed eagle on it, so we are easy to recognize when we are busy. For Arjan it is gradually becoming more than just a hobby: “Most people often think of a falconer as a hunting aid, but our work is and is getting broader than that. For example, the Euregio Business Park has made its land available to stop the nuisance caused by crows and chews. Farmers also know where to find us more and more often to chase away pigeons and chews. We are also hired – for example by Eternit in Goor – to chase away the chews in the factory”.
One attracts the other
The nuisance of chews and crows has more impact than just the mess and holes in the lawns they cause: “One attracts the other. All those loosened garbage bags attract martens and rats to these places again. And these animals cause even more inconvenience and costs – certainly at a business park such as Kennispark – such as car damage. This is becoming an increasingly serious problem for food companies in particular”.
Diversity delivers diversity
A surplus of chewing and crows also has negative consequences for the population of rabbits, squirrels and ducks: “Crows rob their nests and even eat young birds. If you allow that to happen, you actually stop the stimulating factor needed for biodiversity. Young birds and other animal species, in turn, ensure the spread of seeds. For example, hares and rabbits eat specific plants that give other plant species more space”. According to Arjan it is very simple: “Diversity provides diversity, so keeping this snowball effect in balance is in fact the core of my task as a falconer.
The results are there now, because there is significantly less nuisance with many buildings. Arjan explains: “A falconer really is the most sustainable alternative. By the way, it is not the intention to chase them away altogether. Chewing and crows also have an important function in the biological chain I just described. Keeping a balance, that’s what it’s all about”.
Training is necessary
Arjan now also uses the UT site as a location to train the aspirants: “Training the aspirants is mainly the responsibility of my colleague Rob, because he is a recognized mentor and has many years of experience as a falconer. There are many people who want to be trained as falconers: “The opportunity we got from Kennispark is extremely important to train a new generation of falconers”. And according to Arjan they will be needed more than ever: “The 150 falconers that we have in the Netherlands are too few to guard that balance in nature. That is why training is so important right now. With an education you can easily spend three years, so having a good location is incredibly important”.
The measures we are now taking to protect biodiversity also yield BREEAM-points.