Case study:River Varde Valley and the meadows of Ho Bay (Ho Bugt) environment improvement project
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- 1 Project overview
- 2 Image gallery
- 3 Catchment and subcatchment
- 4 Site
- 5 Project background
- 6 Reasons for river restoration
- 7 Measures
- 8 Monitoring
- 9 Additional documents and videos
- 10 Additional links and references
- 11 Supplementary Information
|Project web site|
|Themes||Habitat and biodiversity, Land use management - agriculture, Social benefits|
|Main contact forename||Henrik Lykke|
|Main contact surname||Sørensen|
|Main contact user ID|
|Contact organisation||The Nature Agency, Danish Ministry of the Environment.|
|Contact organisation web site||http://www.mim.dk/eng/|
|Parent multi-site project|
| This is a parent project
encompassing the following
Varde River runs through the central and western part of Jutland from its out-spring to Ho Bugt, passing by Varde and Esbjerg cities. The river valley is the only remaining estuary in Western Jutland and was an area of great importance for migrating waterfowls with feeding, moulting and resting sites up to the 1950’s. Then, intensive farming based on grass pellets’ production and grazing seriously impaired the area's natural qualities. Fertilisation as well as drainage impoverished the natural vegetation and dependent fauna. Almost no wading birds bred in the area during the 1980’s and 1990’s, and only few migratory birds used the area for resting and foraging. In addition, leaching of nutrients and ochre reduced the water quality of the River Varde and the Wadden Sea.
The restoration project was based in land re-redistribution and initiated in the 1996 by local farmers and their organisations. A restoration plan was prepared in co-operation with the Danish Forestry and Nature Agency, the Directorate for Food, Fisheries and Agri Business under the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, the Land Owner Committee, Varde Farmer Union, Smallholders of Varde and Neighbourhood and Ribe County.
Most of the funding came from the EU LIFE programme and from 20 year management subsidies under EEC Reg. 2078/92. It was accepted under the EU LIFE funding that the farmers’ 20 year agreements would form the long term management part of the total project.
Natural hydrological conditions in 2,488 hectares of human-induced uniform well drained grassland were restored toward a favourable conservation status for habitats and species in the project River Varde Valley and the meadows of Ho Bay in the future. This was done by raising the water level, stopping the use of fertilisers and pesticides and by adjusting other agricultural practices, such as production periods and grazing regimes, to more extensive and environmentally beneficial practices.
The River Restoration Centre would like to thank Henrik Lykke Sørensen from the The Nature Agency (Danish Ministry of the Environment) for providing the information and photographs for this case study.
Monitoring surveys and results
After restoration, the raised water level within most of the compartments together with restrictions on the use of fertilisers and pesticides and changed management practices is reducing the leaching of nutrients, ochre and pesticide pollution into the surrounding environment. In addition, conditions have been enhanced for flora and fauna, not only within the project area, but also in Ho Bay and the rest of the Wadden Sea.
The animal and plant populations including fish, mammals, amphibians, birds and invertebrates have increased and obtained a more beneficial conservation status. The same is also true for habitats including the estuary, Atlantic salt marshes, freshwater meadows, and the River Varde Å itself. The Corncrake (Crex crex) has improved its conservation status.
However, changes in the conservation status of the area have not been as effective and fast as might have been expected. This is mainly caused by the farmer’s choice of management by traditional grass cutting and mowing instead of cattle grazing. It is being considered establishing grazing associations through the Danish Rural Development Programme to encourage the farmers to introduce grazing in larger parts of the target area.
Catchment and subcatchment
Cost for project phases
Supplementary funding information
The total budget was approximately €23 million with €0.7 million provided by the EU LIFE programme and €20 million from agri-environmental subsidies. The LIFE funding (1996-2002) mainly contributed to the non-recurrent part of the project. The subsidies formed the main basis of financing for recurring environmentally-friendly management activities over 20 years (1999-2019). The remaining parts of the budget, especially pre-project costs and land redistribution costs, were covered by funding from the Danish Forestry and Nature Agency and the Danish Food Industry Agency.
Reasons for river restoration
Hydromorphological quality elements
Biological quality elements
Physico-chemical quality elements
Additional documents and videos