The foothills on the Rhine bend in Orsoy offer a vital habitat for numerous rare and protected animal and plant species and is therefore part of a national and international conservation area. However, despite its designation as a conservation area, a Special Area of Conservation, part of the Lower Rhine bird sanctuary and the Lower Rhine Ramsar site, living conditions for many of the species living here have deteriorated over the past three decades. As a result, their numbers are continually declining and many of them are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Package of measures for the Lower Rhine bird sanctuary
In 2009, the state of North Rhine Westphalia resolved to set out and implement a package of measures for the bird sanctuary in order to counteract this alarming development.
This package of measures has been in place since February 2011, and includes factors influencing the threat to particular species and proposals for counteracting these threats. Measures expected to be successful require meticulous planning based on reliable local studies. Implementation of these measures must be supported by experts and evaluated and, if necessary, adapted at a later date. A significant amount of work and funding is required. The EU’s LIFE Programme is designed to manage these nature and environmental conservation efforts in Europe’s most valuable conservation areas.
The Biologische Station im Kreis Wesel was seeking to address these issues for the Rhine bend at Orsoy as a part of the bird sanctuary, and so our efforts were classified as a LIFE+ project. The primary objective was to improve the conservation status of species and habitats with European significance, or to put it another way, to preserve the area for future generations as part of Europe’s natural heritage.
With the Rhine bend at Orsoy specifically in mind, this means:
The quality of the habitat for target species including the black-tailed godwit, redshank, Northern lapwing and Natterjack toad were improved by targeted measures, as well as the lowland hay meadows habitat type as defined by the Habitats Directive from their current poor state of preservation to a more favourable conservation status secured for the future. Last but not least, people using the area should be made aware that they are part of their environment and play a vital role in protecting these unique and valuable habitats.