Renaturation of riparian forests preserves biodiversity around Lake Constance

A cross-border project for the renaturation – meaning the ecological restoration - of forests along the shores of Lake Constance contributes to the goals of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy and the Habitats Directive.

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Alluvial Forest at the estuary of Bregenzer Aach – Lake Constance 2009. © Bodensee-Stiftung Alluvial Forest at the estuary of Bregenzer Aach – Lake Constance 2009. © Bodensee-Stiftung

" Even though the big renaturation projects we had planned could not be implemented, the project had a direct effect on the acknowledgement of the importance of alluvial forests at Lake Constance. Today its conservation is regulated in several management plans. "

Volker Kromrey, Project Manager Bodensee-Stiftung

Alluvial forests around Lake Constance are home to rare flora and fauna, such as silver willows, ash trees, orioles, kingfishers and beavers. Over the last century, the forests have suffered considerably from the increase in building density and the corrections to rivers and waterways. Today, the remaining forest areas are small, and young willow or ash trees very rare.

The “Renaturation of alluvial forests” project addressed these problems by developing a strategy for the protection of riparian forests, which are priority habitats according to the Habitats Directive. In addition, efforts were made to improve cooperation between environment protection authorities in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, as well as with non-governmental organizations. This also created synergies in the efforts to preserve the biotope, which in turn leads to long-term benefits such as flood prevention, and contributes to the fight against climate change due to the retention of CO2 in riparian forests.

Feasibility studies pave the way for renaturation

During the first part of the project, an analysis of the potential for restoring and rejuvenating the riparian forests was conducted. As a result, six representative forest areas with promising outlooks for a possible renaturation were selected. These areas were the object of feasibility studies, exploring which of the suggested renaturation measures are most effective and best suited to preserve biodiversity.

Sensitising the population

Another major theme of the project was informing the public about the particular characteristics, needs, and benefits of riparian forests and their flora and fauna. A travelling exhibition, realised with the support of the Deutsche Telekom and the “Living Forests” environmental protection fund, has toured the municipalities around Lake Constance since 2009.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Renaturation of alluvial forests around Lake Constance” (Auenwaldrenaturierung am Bodensee) is EUR 189 791 with the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) contributing EUR 102 971 through the “Alpenrhein-Bodensee-Hochrhein” operational programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.

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