Removal of unwanted growth from water banks
In this instance, “unwanted growth” does not refer to gardeners who want to see “clear” plots. If you have already read the section about grassland birds, you will have already guessed why there is a lack of bushes, trees and dense shrubs in our project area – after all, black-tailed godwits, redshanks and northern lapwings are not called meadow birds for nothing!
The shallow waters are popular breeding and resting places for wading birds and ducks, but because of seed dispersal, willows and poplars had gained a foothold and had spread out along the bank as well as towards the surrounding grassland. If we had not acted in time, access to the riverbank would soon have been blocked by bushes. The aforementioned species would habe deserted these waters as meadow birds are not intended to be bush or tree-dwelling birds.
The measure was realised in autumn 2015 across three subareas with a total size of 3 hectares. It centred around cutting down and removing young poplar and willow growth. Freeing the banks of vegetation derives its justification from a second measure, which it is a preparation for: the introduction of cultivation methods beneficial to grassland birds and extending to the water’s edge will prevent unwanted plant growth from reestablishing itself. In 2018 water buffaloes were introduced to the target area of this measure. Their grazing and ambling along the water bank will make sure, that the problem of overgrown banks will not return.
Waders and grassland birds won’t be the measure’s sole beneficiaries: amphibians will also profit, as newts and others will find the routes to their spawning waters open!