In the Spring of 2007 the dune area Kraansvlak, a closed-off area near the Kennemer Dunes, became the territory of a group of European bison. Between 2007 and 2017, a pilot project with bison living in a Dutch natural area is carried out, accompanied by scientific research. It is a cooperative project of PWN (water supply company as well as nature manager in the Province of Noord-Holland), ARK Nature, Stichting Kritisch Bosbeheer, Stichting Duinbehoud and FREE Nature.
The goal of this project is to gain knowledge and experiences with bison in the Dutch situation, and study their food strategy (no supplementary feeding) and the effects of this animal species on the sand dune landscape, dune dynamics and dune vegetation. The practical experiences gained may be used for possible future reintroductions of this wild bovine species to other natural areas in the Netherlands or abroad. By exchanging animals with other bison areas in the Netherlands as well as abroad, the herd in Kraansvlak contributes to the conservation of this endangered species.
Besides the interaction between bison and landscape, the co-existence with other grazers as well as human visitors is under study. The project started with an acclimatization period, during which the animals could only be watched from a viewpoint or through the fencing. Later on, the project team started to provide guided excursions into the area. In 2012 the first 5 years of the project were reviewed and it was decided to continue at least until 2017 with the pilot and research. After an expansion in 2012, the bison area again increased in 2014 and consists now of more than 300 hectares.