Old Oak Forests are a habitat type under severe pressure. Reduced vitality and increased mortality of summer oaks over the last decade has increased the urgency to further investigate possible ecosystem restoration via stone-meal application. In 2018/19, a desk study was conducted on existing knowledge regarding restoration potential for the Old Oak Woodland habitat type. The recommendations from this report are to further investigate the effects of stone meal administration on Old Oak Woodlands in four areas:
- Effects on vegetation (including plant chemistry) and soil
- Effects on soil fungi and bacteria
- Effects on soil fauna and rate of litter decomposition
- Effects on macrofauna (spiders, insects) in relation to birds and mammals.
In 2019/early 2020, a trial design for the above study was developed by Radboud University in cooperation with Research Center B-WARE, with a total of 30 experimentation areas established at 10 different locations in habitat type Old Oak Forest in the Veluwe. Each experimention area is 0.5 ha in size. Three test areas were established per location. Two of them were treated with a different type of stone meal each (Soilfeed or Eifelgold), the third was set up as a control trial area. Stone meal treatments were carried out in early 2020. In addition, a grid was placed in each trial area so that part of the trial area was closed to wildlife.
A baseline measurement of soil chemistry (plant available ions, buffering, total element contents soil) and soil life (bacteria, fungi, soil mesofauna) was also carried out when the trial was set out. Soil chemistry was analyzed directly, for soil life, samples were collected and preserved for later analysis. A baseline measurement of leaf chemistry (Pedunculate oak, including analysis) was also conducted in July/August 2020.