Board E

Heathland Connection

In the municipality of Waalre, there is approximately 37 hectares of open natural terrain. This area consists of heathland, grasslands, ponds, and pools. Nearly half of this area is dry heathland. This also applies to the Meerberg (5.10 hectares) and Meerheide (3.90 hectares) areas, located north of the Aalst - Waalre line. The Meerberg consists mostly of dry heathland with a small portion of sand drifts. These areas are relatively close to each other (about 250 meters as the crow flies). To the north of these areas, there are several compensation plots of land owned by the municipality, which have been set up as natural areas. These pieces of land with nature connect to the Meerheide. In 2020, the municipality of Waalre established a heathland corridor in this area, creating a connection to the Meerberg.

The purpose of the heathland corridor is to improve the quality of the Meerberg and Meerheide. The heathland corridor facilitates gene exchange between various plant and animal species (populations). The tree cutting has been compensated with municipal land in 't Achtereind. By constructing the corridor robustly, the area of dry heathland has been increased by over 1 hectare. Plant species that grow in this corridor include bell heather, common broom, prostrate broom, dyer's greenweed, and heath-grass.

Animal species such as field crickets, cone-headed grasshoppers, viviparous lizards, nightjars, stonechats, and great grey shrikes use this corridor or make it their new habitat. Some of these species are already found in one or both of the heathland areas or in the vicinity.

Quietness on the heathland is important for our birds and amphibians. Therefore, please keep dogs on a leash!

Habitat for Viviparous Lizard

The goal is to attract the viviparous lizard to this area. By making the terrain suitable for this lizard, many other species also find their place here. Species that hitch a ride with the viviparous lizard include prostrate broom, dyer's greenweed, large skipper, and small pearl-bordered fritillary. Portions of land have been excavated and transformed into heathland surrounded by flower-rich and herb-rich grasslands. The existing cultural-historical structure remains. Additionally, it is supplemented with new plantings that naturally belong here, such as pedunculate oak, lime, goat willow, Guelder rose, hazel, hawthorn, and wild privet. Many insects, birds, and bats will make use of this habitat.

Viviparous lizards prefer somewhat moist heathland or heathland with ponds and thickets. As the name suggests, viviparous lizards give live birth and do not lay eggs; they essentially brood the eggs within the mother's body and then give birth to their offspring, similar to humans. One of the photos shows a pregnant female with a yellowish belly. Males have an orange belly with black spots.

Aerial Warfare over Waalre

During World War II, many Allied bombings were carried out on Germany. This meant that numerous aircraft flew over our municipality. Not all of these planes returned safely to their home bases. Many planes crashed within the municipal borders, resulting in numerous casualties. On the night of June 28-29, 1943, two bombers came down in our municipality. These were a Canadian Halifax and a British Lancaster.

The Lancaster flew over Waalre while on fire from the direction of Valkenswaard. Along the way, the plane lost many pieces and materials. In 2021, near the spot where you are standing, a fire extinguisher was found, presumably from the Lancaster.

In both crashes (both the Halifax and the Lancaster), the entire crews lost their lives, totaling 14 men.

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