Wetland restoration in the Bavarian Alps: the Allgäuer Moorallianz

The peat bog and litter meadow landscapes of the Bavarian Alps count among the richest and most significant wetland landscapes in Germany. The transition between the peat bogs in the Alpine region and the pre-Alpine lowlands is very well-preserved here. Furthermore, the large traditional grazing areas ("Allmende") of Eastern Allgäu are a significant locus of near-natural peat meadows.

The area is also home to numerous indigenous peatland fauna such as the Moorland Clouded Yellow butterfly (Colias palaeno) and the Azure Hawker dragonfly (Aeshna caerulea), including more than 90 species which are critically endangered or at risk of extinction (including the Violet Copper butterfly (Lycaena helle), the Pygmy Damselfly (Nehalennia speciosa) and the common European adder (Vipera berus)).

© Bund Naturschutz Ostallgaeu
© Bund Naturschutz Ostallgaeu

In order to safeguard this important natural heritage, a number of authorities, municipalities and associations have joined together to form the Allgäuer Moorallianz (i.e. Allgäu Wetland Alliance). The Alliance aims to preserve and restore the wetlands of the Bavarian Alps (Allgäu). It involves a wide range of stakeholders, including farmers, authorities, schools and countryside management associations, tourism initiatives and nature conservation bodies. In many areas, the wet meadows and litter meadows which accompany peat bogs have been drained, intensified and replaced with grassland. On the farmed areas, dairy farming predominates, while at higher altitudes, Alpine farming plays an important role. In all, more than 90% of Bavaria’s peat bogs are seriously degraded or damaged in some other way. Only 5-10% can now be regarded as being near-natural, and only 1%, at most, are still in a natural state.

The aim of the “Allgäuer Moorallianz” project is therefore to safeguard and develop the most important core zones of the Bavarian wetlands by means of an intact hydrological regime and appropriate use. This involves measures such as rewetting of high and transitional peat bogs, blocking of drainage ditches, and near-natural restructuring of streams. A further aim is to manage the grassland belt around the peat bogs in an environmentally compatible manner, using adapted forms of use such as haymaking and grazing management techniques. Particularly valuable areas such as step-sensitive wetland water bodies and headwaters require particular protection, and species-rich dry meadows should be re-established. Through appropriate forest thinning measures, the development of structurally rich forest/open land transitions is being encouraged as habitats for black grouse and wood grouse (capercaillie).

Besides pursuing numerous nature conservation objectives, the Allgäuer Moorallianz also focusses on a broad range of socio-economic issues. These include sensitising and informing the public and political decision-makers. A further aim is to develop suitable areas for local recreation and tourism with a view to developing “peat bog tourism”. Marketing strategies for the agricultural products produced as part of the management measures also form part of the project, including the marketing of litter from litter meadows via a litter exchange. In order to enhance the region’s tourism appeal, various pathways will be laid out to attract and channel tourists and enhance their experience of this natural area. A comprehensive environmental education programme offers guided walks, excursions and project days, e.g. for schools, and is specifically targeted at the local population. Besides placing emphasis on nature conservation issues, these educational measures also underline the importance of wetlands for climate and flood protection.

Balance

The “Allgäuer Moorallianz” project brings together a range of different actors and makes a major contribution to the biotope network. It promotes the peat bog landscape on a targeted basis within the framework of a regional strategy. With its comprehensive objectives, which link nature conservation aspects with socio-economic objectives and practical ideas for implementation, it pursues an innovative approach to the valorisation of the biotope’s potential. The project was one of the winners in the first group of the “Idee Natur: Zukunftspreis Naturschutz” competition run by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation and will possibly receive support as a large-scale nature conservation project.

Contacts and further information

Measure

Restoration of wetlands

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