Sheep flocks are a traditional and inseparable part of heathland in the Netherlands. Both the creation of heathland and its continuation depended on farming systems on the higher sandy areas, in which sheep played a important part. Historical use of heathland was largely built up around the production of manure that was then used for arable farming.
Because of this cultural heritage and the role that sheep can play in the maintenance of this ecosystem, subsidies are available for grazing by sheep flocks with a shepherd. These subsidies are now included in the Investment Budget for Rural Areas, that is managed by the provinces. Most subsidised sheep flocks are located in the provinces Gelderland, Limburg and Drenthe.
It should be mentioned in this respect that these flocks are also used to graze in other natural areas and on dykes.