Wetlands are important
Wetlands are critical part of our natural environment. They are the vital link between land and water. They provide a huge benefit in sheltering important biodiversity and in addition, they also provide a wide range of benefits to people.
In Slovakia the leading organization dealing for 25 years with wetlands restoration is NGO Broz (Bratislava regional conservation association). Their work is focuses on the protection and restoration of valuable wetlands ecosystems. This NGO focuses primarily on the area surrounding the Danube River and restores wetlands and river sidearms, forests and meadows on the Slovak side.
Loss of the wetlands
Slovakia is a country located in the middle of Europe and is known pretty much because of its mountains in the north. Much less people know the Danubian lowland that extends at the very south edge of the country. It is part of the country which carries many signs of impacts by man in the last century.
In the past, this part of Slovakia was heavily deforested, and only narrow strips of forest survived along the rivers. After deforestation, land was intensively drained and turned into grasslands and agricultural land.
In the following phases, managers turned extensive grasslands to arable land. During this process, a majority of tree alleys were also cut down. All this happened within just a few decades. The result of that process was an enormous loss of wetlands.
Loss of biodiversity
Smaller fragments of wetlands survived only along the rivers which continue to exist after channelling. Larger parts of wetlands survived along the Danube River with many side arms periodically covered by water. Biodiversity depended on wetlands, surviving only in small fragments.
Today in this place, the largest monocultures of agriculture field in central Europe spread from horizon to horizon. Rapeseed and corn monocultures do not provide habitats for any of the animals or plants which were so common in this land in the past.
Climate change and wetlands restoration
Extreme temperatures and droughts we have been experiencing in recent years are the heralds of escalating climate change. Wetlands are one of the most efficient mitigators of its negative impacts. They help us keep our landscape alive and habitable.
Wetlands positively mitigate climate extremes, serving as large sponges that retain water in the countryside. Wetlands provide the surrounding arable land with enough water, thus improving the conditions for farming. That is why we are on good terms with our farmer neighbours. We do not fight, instead, we collaborate in wetland conservation to achieve prosperity for both nature and people in the Danubian lowland.
Unique opportunity to restore wetland
A unique opportunity to restore a small territory which has been for many years intensively used for agriculture came only recently. The local conservationists got a chance to create a kind of show-case and model how this kind of man-made land can be at least partially restored and revived.
The project will focus on a 42-hectare piece of land with the objective of re-creating damaged and meliorated wetland. The project focus is to revive island of life in the middle of the vast intensively used fields. The intention is to bring back not only water but also life. All this is going to happen in the middle of heavily used agricultural land, among the drained and intensively used fields.
Europe lost already most of the wetlands and therefore any activity dealing with their restoration is very important. Similar projects are running all over the Europe. This project in Slovakia is also contributing to the wetlands restoration.
I like this wetland project in Slovakia because it is focusing on the reestablishment of wetland conditions similar to the original condition.