Case study:Loutre BeLu: Restoration of European otter habitats (Belgium & Luxemburg)

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Location: 50° 24' 2", 5° 8' 1"
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Project overview

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Status Complete
Project web site
Themes Habitat and biodiversity, Monitoring
Country Belgium
Main contact forename Christine
Main contact surname Leclercq
Main contact user ID
Contact organisation Parc Naturel Haute-Sûre Forêt d'Anlier
Contact organisation web site
Partner organisations
Parent multi-site project
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encompassing the following
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Project summary

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The Loutre BeLu project aimed to protect declining otter (Lutra lutra) populations in a cross-border area between Belgium and the Grand Duché de Luxembourg. Habitat restoration targeted an area of approximately 300,000 and included the basins of the Rivers Our, Sûre and Ourthe. Encouraging re-colonisation by providing more habitats for matting was intended to allow genetic exchanges between the currently separated otter populations.

The project intended to work with the full range of local stakeholders and landowners in particular. It included regular monitoring of indicators for otter presence, as well as the creation of a data base and a geographical information system. The project planned a wide-ranging communication effort with specific actions toward different target groups to provide long-term protection and appropriate conservation management.

The works affected more than 600 km of watercourse, and 21 Natura 2000 sites in Belgium and eleven in Luxembourg. This involved protection of the river banks and construction of fences along 61 km to prevent access by livestock to riverbanks, 23 footbridges for cattle. Also 262 drinking troughs were established and 23 km of riparian forest were planted. Further works included the removal of 150 ha of spruce plantations from floodplains, with 44 ha of this felling area cleaned up with the restoration of indigenous plants such as broad-leaved alluvial forest and a patchwork of meadows and marshes. The project created 178 ponds and 33 otter havens. Invasive species were directly tackled on 189 ha, with different methods tested and assessed. To restore water quality in the rivers for the otter and fish, the project: reconnected seven backwaters and spawning grounds to the main river channel; removed or modified 21 obstacles to the migration of fish up and down the river; and installed nine passageways for otters under road bridges.

Monitoring surveys and results

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Lessons learnt

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Catchment and subcatchment


Name Basins of the Sûre, the Ourthe and the Our in Belgium and in Luxembourg
WFD water body codes
WFD (national) typology
WFD water body name
Pre-project morphology
Reference morphology
Desired post project morphology
Heavily modified water body No
National/international site designation
Local/regional site designations
Protected species present Yes
Invasive species present No
Species of interest Lutra lutra
Dominant hydrology
Dominant substrate
River corridor land use
Average bankfull channel width category
Average bankfull channel width (m)
Average bankfull channel depth category
Average bankfull channel depth (m)
Mean discharge category
Mean annual discharge (m3/s)
Average channel gradient category
Average channel gradient
Average unit stream power (W/m2)

Project background

Reach length directly affected (m) 6000
6,000 m
6 km
600,000 cm
Project started 2005/10/01
Works started
Works completed
Project completed 2011/03/01
Total cost category
Total cost (k€) 3891663
3,891,663 k€
3,891,663,000 €
Benefit to cost ratio
Funding sources European Commission, Wallonian Region and Grand Duchy of Luxemburg, EU LIFE Programme

Cost for project phases

Phase cost category cost exact (k€) Lead organisation Contact forename Contact surname
Investigation and design
Stakeholder engagement and communication
Works and works supervision
Post-project management and maintenance

Reasons for river restoration

Mitigation of a pressure
Other reasons for the project


Structural measures
Bank/bed modifications
Floodplain / River corridor
Planform / Channel pattern
Non-structural measures
Management interventions
Social measures (incl. engagement)


Hydromorphological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Biological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Physico-chemical quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Any other monitoring, e.g. social, economic

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Monitoring documents

Additional documents and videos

Additional links and references

Link Description Lifeloutre GB0605Light.pdf "Life Otter : appraisal of 5 years actions in favour of an emblematic proj id=2919&docType=pdf LIFE05 NAT/B/000085 Loutre Be Lu 2005-2006 Life Loutre

Supplementary Information

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