Astronomy can produce fascinating and exciting results. But a completely new nature reserve resulting from the building of a telescope is something no one has thought of yet. However, the LOFAR project made this possible. This new sensor network, initiated by ASTRON and developed by research institutes, universities and businesses, proves it. On 15 September the LOFAR nature project in the central LOFAR area will be completed officially.
The core of the LOFAR telescope is currently being built between Exloo and Buinen in Drenthe, on eighteen so-called 'terpen', small elevated lands on which 3.000 antennas are placed. In the centre of the core is the 'superterp', a large circular 'terp' with a diameter of 340 metres. This central LOFAR area is located between the Hondsrug and an area called the 'Veenkoloniën'. A river called 'het Achterste Diep', part of the river 'de Hunze', runs through the area. In this part different kinds of nature have been implemented: a swamp, wetlands, gully's, puddles and a brook. In total, more than 360.000 cubic metres of soil has been moved. This area, once agricultural land, has now been transformed into a promising nature reserve of 400 hectares.
Peter Bennema, project manager LOFAR nature development: "This nature area was realised through the cooperation between ASTRON and the different parties. Despite the sometimes bad weather conditions and the fact that the building of the telescope had to be partially laid down during breeding season, the reserve is now completed and we can enjoy some beautiful nature in the central LOFAR area."
The combination of high tech and nature makes the LOFAR nature project unique. This is also the reason this project has been nominated for the prestigious competition 'The Golden Piramid' ('De Gouden Piramide').
The nature development in the central LOFAR area has been established by the cooperation of ASTRON, stichting Het Drentse Landschap, Waterschap Hunze en Aa's, and provincie Drenthe. Het Drentse Landschap will eventually be in control of the nature area. The activities in the area have been carried out by Oosterhuis BV from Nijeveen. Oranjewoud BV managed the activities.
For more information:
Peter Bennema, project manager LOFAR nature development, ASTRON. Tel.: 06-21503215. E-mail: bennema [at] astron [dot] nl.
Femke Boekhorst, PR & Communicatione, ASTRON. Tel.: 0521 595 204 and 06-21234243. E-mail: boekhorst [at] astron [dot] nl.
Photo: overview of the superterp, new meanders and pools. Copyright: Aerophoto Eelde