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Restoration programme for Natura 2000 fen areas in the Netherlands
The central objective of the LIFE project is to restore, improve and/ or enlarge the area of fen habitats, with an emphasis on the young successional fen stages (including water vegetations). The project is performed in seven different fen areas in the lower parts of the Netherlands, being the Natura 2000 sites Rottige Meente, De Wieden, Naardermeer, Oostelijke Vechtplassen, Botshol, Nieuwkoopse Plassen and Wormer- en Jisperveld.

Project objectives

The proposed measures aim at the following habitats:

  • Hard oligo-mesotrophic waters with benthic vegetation of Chara spp (H3140)
  • Natural eutrophic lakes with Magnopotamion or Hydrocharition type vegetation (H3150)
  • Wet heath with Erica tetralix (H4010B)
  • Molinia meadows on calcareous, peaty or clayey-silt-laden soils (Molinion caeruleae) (H6410)
  • Transition mires and quaking bogs (H7140A/B)
  • Calcarious fens with Cladium mariscus and species of the Caricion davallianae (H7210*)

After carrying out the measures abovementioned habitats are restored or expected to develop on the short to medium term. On the long term also Bog woodland (H91D0*) is served as this habitat type can develop from these young habitats. 

Additionally many characteristic fen species associated with the target habitats, both flora and fauna (e.g. root vole and large copper), benefit from the measures. 

Actions en means involved

To achieve the project objectives many measures have to be performed. The main activities are:

  • Sod-cutting degraded/ acidified transition mires and quaking bogs (H7140A/B) to restore these fen habitats.
  • Digging ditches in transition mires and quaking bogs (H7140A/B) to improve the supply of base-rich surface or seepage water and prevent acidification.
  • Removal of topsoil of land formerly used for agriculture to create Molinia meadows (H6410).
  • Digging new peat holes to create water habitats (H3140, H3150) and develop young successional stages (H7140A/B, H7210*).
  • Dredging eutrophic peat lakes to improve water quality for water habitats (H3140, H3150) and create optimal situations for development of young successional stages (H7140A/B, H7210*).
  • Altering ditches and building constructions to optimally use the flow of surface water fed by seepage water to improve hydrological conditions of e.g. quaking bogs (H7140A).
  • Realisation of new marsh by nature development measures and removing lease to create habitat for marsh land birds like bittern, purple heron and great reed warbler.
  • Removal of shrub, young trees and felling young marsh forest; additionally, to improve water habitats and young successional fen stages (H4010B, H7140A/B, H7210*), or before measures as sod-cutting and digging peat holes.
  • Construction of float lands (helophytes and other water plants) on 3 sites in project area Oostelijke Vechtplassen, preceding applied research on succession of young fen habitats.
  • Purchase of a ship and creating compost facility to facilitate site management conversion in Nieuwkoopse Plassen from winter mowing to summer mowing to enlarge the area transition mires and quaking bogs (H7140B).
  • Improvement of information points and recreation facilities by realisation or upgrading three information points (Rottige Meente, Oostelijke Vechtplassen and Botshol), purchase of excursion boats and construction of a footpath with viewpoints.
  • Monitoring of the project results.

Expected results (outputs and quantified achievements)

The measures reduce the area of older successional stages and increase the area of young successional stages. By this the measures highly add to restoration and enlargement of young fen habitats and by that to cyclical rejuvenation. 

The measures mean direct restoration/ quality improvement or short to medium term enlargement of target habitats. 

The outputs per project area for the different habitats in hectares are:

Direct restoration/ quality improvement

  • Rottige Meente: H6410; 0,5 ha. H7140A/B: 18,5 ha
  • De Wieden: H7140A: 18,3 ha
  • Naardermeer: H7140B: 18,8 ha
  • Oostelijke Vechtplassen – NM: H3140/ H3150; 130,8 ha, H7140A; 0,5 ha, H7140B: 5,35 ha, H7210*: 5 km
  • Oostelijke Vechtplassen – SBB: H3140/ H3150; 195 ha
  • Botshol: H7140B; 2,5 ha
  • Nieuwkoopse Plassen: H7140B; 100,5 ha
  • Wormer- en Jisperveld: H4010B; 0,5 ha, H7140B; 10,5 ha

H3140 and H3150 and H7140A/B are mostly mentioned together since these habitats often occur together at app. the same locations or in a small scale, mosaic-like situation. Thus it is often hard to distinguish the exact hectares with restoration/ quality improvement.

Enlargement

  • Naardermeer: H7140B: 4,9 ha, coppice wood: 0,7 ha
  • Oostelijke Vechtplassen – NM: H6410; 16,42 ha, H7140B; 0,53 ha. New marsh: 7,5 ha. Several habitats: 5,87 ha.
  • Oostelijke Vechtplassen – SBB: H6410; 20 ha. Several N2000 habitats: 22,5 ha. Baulks (“legakkers”): 1,44 ha
  • Botshol: H7140B; 2,5 ha
  • Nieuwkoopse Plassen: H7140B; 100,5 ha. Several habitats: 5 ha. The area of raised grassland depends on the degree of raising and is not yet defined.
  • Wormer- en Jisperveld: H7140B; 2 ha

* Moreover 3611 m. ditches are created or restored and 2970 m wood is removed along ditches to serve different habitats.

The exact direction of development is not always predictable by creating new possibilities for habitats, e.g. in case of digging peat holes. Also, most habitats succeed each other in the succession process. In situations like this the areas of enlargement are totalled.