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The LIFE-Project “Reeds for LIFE – Lebendige Röhrichte”

Reeds grow in the shallow water and bank areas of water bodies and are an important habitat there. In particular, they are essential for many endangered reed and water birds. The birds use the reeds as a breeding site and when searching for food. They also serve as protection against predators. And reeds also play an important role for the function of the water body. They form calm shallow water zones and greatly contribute to the water body’s self-cleaning abilities.

However, some of the reeds in the heart of the LIFE project, the “Bienen Old Rhine, Milliner and Hurler Sea and Empel Sea” FFH area, have been in steep decline for several years. Since 1995, the amount of tall reeds has fallen by 65 %. The bullrush (Typha angustifolia, T. latifolia) has actually fallen by almost 100 %. But it is not just reeds that are disappearing; the floating leaf vegetation has also declined massively. In 2018, the white water lily (Nymphaea alba) could not be recorded for the first time.

As the reeds are declining, the habitat conditions for the water and reed birds, which are of particular importance in the project area as well as in the whole “Lower Rhine” bird protection area, are also deteriorating. For years, their numbers have been showing negative population trends. The bittern, as an indicator species among reed birds, is now deemed to be extinct in the whole of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The project is funded by the LIFE Programme of the European Union.