Habitat restoration

The sites purchased for the LIFE Grassland Project are mostly managed by local farmers, who sign an agro-environment agreement which ensures their compensation for potential losses in crop outcome due to extensive farming methods.

Furthermore the following restoration methods are used for acquired sites:

Semi-natural dry grasslands (6210), Tree pipit, Woodlark and Common Redstart:

Sites with a high shrub density are cleared. New extensive management plans, like mowing or light grazing, are set in place.

Molinia meadows (6410) and Lowland hay meadows (6510):

These sites are categorized using their nutritional values and the existing vegetation:

  • High nutritional values and low plant diversity: no grassland restoration is yet possible due to high nutritional values. These sites are put under an extensive management scheme until restoration is possible.
  • Low nutritional values and low plant diversity: restoration through transfer of fresh, seed-containing hay is possible.
  • Low nutritional values and high plant diversity: maintaining the site in good state is a priority. Additionally, rare and endangered plant species are planted in small groups onto these sites.

Any of these three restoration methods is followed by an extensive management scheme.

Hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities (6430):

Suitable wet sites with high nutritional values are set aside to ensure the development of hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities. To prevent encroachment by shrubs, those sites are mowed every 2 to 5 years.

Transition mires (7140):

If necessary, old drainage systems are blocked. To prevent shrub encroachment, these sites are put under an extensive management scheme.

Great crested newt:

New large-scale sun-exposed ponds are dug in open areas to create new reproduction grounds. Greenland around these ponds is managed using extensive grazing or mowing practices. Furthermore, punctual structures are improved.

Yellow-bellied toad:

Creation of a mosaic of small-scale sun-exposed temporary water bodies in open areas. Captive breeding and release of this nationally critically endangered species might be necessary. Additionally, greenland around these newly created water bodies are managed using extensive grazing or mowing practices and punctual structures are improved.

Geoffroy’s bat:

To maintain a network of hunting grounds, linear landscape structures (hedgerows, natural water bodies, trees) are preserved or improved. Moreover, new hunting grounds are created by planting new orchards with light grazing management.