The dunes in the National Park Schiermonnikoog can be found along the North Sea coast of the island. Through the centuries dunes have formed when wind blows sand into a sheltered area behind an obstacle such a grass or dune grass. Dunes grow as grains of sand accumulate. Every dune has a windward side and a slipface. Some dunes develop through the active management of the nature on the island, by planting extra dune grass and the building windbreakers made out of twigs.
In the dune valleys there are many plants, including various types of orchids. It is very evident that all plant species have their own requirements for optimum growth. This can be seen further along in the dunes, where the salt water and the wind from the sea reduce, the vegetation changes.
Rain water has also impacted on the vegetation in the dunes, particularly the oldest dunes on the island. Through the centuries the rain has washed away the calcium from the dune sand. Plants, such as the sea buckthorn, therefore, have been replaced mainly by mosses. The sun and the wind also influence the vegetation; the difference in plants can be seen on the north and south slopes of the dunes.
A paradise for birds
It is notable that the dunes have richer vegetation; due to the reduction in grazing rabbits. This is great news for the birds as dunes provide a good source of nutrition for them.
Bushes such as the hawthorn, sea buckthorn, the elder flower and the bramble all offer nutritious berries, as well as a shelter.
Important birds of prey are most likely to be seen above the marsh lands and the dunes.
Behind the dunes is the forest, which contains deciduous and pine trees. The salty sea wind has a huge impact on the trees.