Habitat network Wauwilermoos

    Since 1995, the plain of Wauwil is being ecologically enhanced under the expert guidance of the Swiss Ornithological Institute. New methods and types of designated biodiversity sites are being tested. In addition, the necessary foundations are being laid for the professional maintenance of the site and the enhancement of existing nature reserves.

    Aims

    • Maintenance of the nature site plain of Wauwil with a focus on target and indicator species, i.e. preserving and improving the habitats and breeding success of Northern Lapwing, Eurasian Skylark, Marsh Warbler, Yellowhammer, Brown Hare and 24 further target and indicator species
    • Monitoring the proper implementation and the effectiveness of planned and performed measures
    • Testing new measures in agricultural areas dominated by feed crops
    • Monitoring landscape development

    Approach

    With the aid of a habitat network project, which is supported by the adjacent communities and coordinated by the Swiss Ornithological Institute, as many specific measures as possible will be implemented to protect bird species of open, wet farmland (i.e. Northern Lapwing, Marsh Warbler). Creating sites that are periodically wet is particularly important.

    Results

    The second six-year project phase has now been completed, and the third is underway. Since the start of the project, the proportion of natural habitats has increased from 4.4 % to 11.4 % (2014). The strongest increase in area was achieved in meadows rich in flowers (from 12 to 107.5 ha). Similarly, standing bodies of water (ponds, etc.) have increased from 8 to 20, and the number of hedges has gone up from 55 to 119. Most target organisms reacted positively to these changes. Overall, the number of agricultural indicator species increased from 11 to 18, while their territories more than doubled. The Yellowhammer, for example, has increased significantly, and Brown Hare numbers are showing an upward trend. Marsh Warbler and Eurasian Skylark populations fluctuate but appear to be sustaining themselves at a low level. Northern Lapwing has increased population size (from about 10 to 60 pairs) and breeding success, and the Grass Snake has spread from the western part to inhabit the whole plain, like it used to. Green Leek Grasshopper, Large Marsh Grasshopper and other grasshopper species have repopulated large parts of the plain starting from refuge sites. Populations of these species have stabilised, albeit in some cases at relatively low levels.

    Which bird species have been observed in the plain of Wauwil since 1999?

    The concept for the protection, design and use of the nature reserve Wauwilermoos from 2002 was comprehensively revised in 2012. In winter 2009/10, ponds of approx. 3 ha in size were created. A canal was excavated and the excavated material deposited along the banks to serve as a dam. By flooding the landscape in summer with water from the pump station, which is used to drain the agricultural land, polder areas will form. Water levels can be partly lowered during the migratory period of wading birds. In winter, polder areas may be completely drained to allow mowing of reed. In 2015, the dilapidated observation and ringing cabin at the northern edge of the reserve was replaced by a new building which is now permanently open to the public. To the north of the cabin, flood channels will be built in winter 2016/17 to make the area more attractive for migrating waders.

    Project management

    Roman Graf

    Publications

    Duss, M., K. S. Meichtry-Stier, G. Pasinelli, B. Baur & S. Birrer (2012):
    Vernetzte Ökoflächen fördern Heuschrecken.