Reclaim LIFE - conservation and restoration of two wetlands in Örebro County

The County Administrative Board of Örebro ran during the years of 2012 to 2018 a conservation project in Tysslingen and Venakärret, recreating historical grazing and mowing.

Reclaim. Logga

Just like its name implies the project wants to take something back, restore something to an earlier natural state, to rescue something. The goal of the Reclaim project is to restore two overgrown wetlands, to reverse existing negative trends, to create long-term sustainability for plants and to animals. The project was carried out during 2012–2018 by the County Administrative Board in Örebro County, Sweden. It was funded by the EU environmental action programme LIFE and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

Restoration of two wetlands

The project has been performed in two overgrowth-threatened wetlands in Örebro County, Sweden – the mineral-rich fen Venakärret and the nutrient-rich lake Tysslingen. Through clearing, cutting, mowing, and removal of vegetation, as well as creation of an infra-structure favouring modern and rational conservation methods. Project actions have made significant improvements towards sustainability for the wetlands and their management. To highlight the values of these wetlands and to bring more awareness towards modern conservation efforts, the project has also worked with public information. This through meetings, production of dissemination materials, on-site noticeboards, and accessibility improvements for visitors.

Conservation through grazing

Tysslingen and Venakärret are both supplied with a steady stream of nutrients from contributing waterways. Plant life thrives from this. Humans have taken advantage of this by mowing the meadows and using the hay to feed our livestock. However, with the developments and changes seen to agricultural practices in the last century wetlands are no longer profitable. Without grazing and mowing, combined with human water regulations, the long continuation of open wetlands started to get overgrown with trees and reeds.

Efforts for efficient grazing

A large part of the actions in the project have been about creating favourable grazing conditions. Long-ago-abandoned pastures have been prepared for grazing again. Improvements for transport and oversight of animals and animal accessibility to hard-to-reach pastures have been made. And equipment to compliment grazing has been acquired. More specifically, this has included cutting and clearing of vegetation, fencing, building access roads, and strengthening bank walls for animals to walk on.

Conservation 2.0 – production of habitats

Restoring a wetland back to its natural state is rarely an easy task. In most cases it would require restoring all historical conditions for that wetlands natural water cycle. This would likely result in a series of undesirable effects on areas surrounding the wetland.

Modern conservation efforts are therefore mainly focused on simulating the disturbances from historical farming practices and flooding events. The purpose of the project has been to restore and reverse the overgrowth problem in two wetlands. With modern equipment at our disposal and adaptations made to fit modern agricultural methods, we have created the conditions for sustainable and modern nature conservation. Venakärret and Tysslingen are prepared for the future, where humans and nature are working side-by-side again.

Outdoor activities and information

The Reclaim project has not only worked on restoring two wetlands so that its birds, critters, and plants will find their way back. An important goal has also been to make both wetlands accessible to us humans. The once so-hard-to-reach-and-even-harder-to-cross Venakärret has been equipped with a partially wooden foot-trail and a viewing platform from where visitors can enjoy a full view of the fen. At Tysslingen a new viewing platform has been built and a nature exhibit has been made in an abandoned but now restored electrical station. At both wetlands different information signs tell visitors about the plants, animals, and history for both areas. During the project several information meetings and guided tours have been arranged for both areas. Landowners, neighbours, and people from the general public have been invited to these events.

Project areas

The project has been performed in two overgrowth-threatened wetlands in Örebro County, Sweden – the mineral-rich fen Venakärret and the nutrient-rich lake Tysslingen. Lake Tysslingen is situated on the fat plains below the slopes of Kilsbergen. Venakärret is situated next to the village of Älvhyttan and is known as an alkaline fen, or a rich fen.

Tysslingen, a nutrient-rich floodplain lake

Lake Tysslingen is situated on the fat plains below the slopes of Kilsbergen. The lake and surrounding wetlands are the remains of a sea bay formed after the last ice age. Through continuous water dynamics, where spring flooding was followed by dry summers and rainy autumns, the wetlands in the area were naturally kept open.

The wetland that almost disappeared

With the great population boom of the 19th century many of the regions wetlands were converted into arable land. Human water regulations disrupted natural water dynamics. When mowing and grazing practices stopped during the 20th century, shrubs and reeds started to overgrow the remaining wetlands.

Nature conservation opens it up again

It was soon apparent that all species previously thriving in these areas had greatly been reduced or completely disappeared. Through a collaborate effort by landowners and nature conservationists a process to restore the open wet meadows were initiated in the 1980’s. With the Reclaim project several improvements have been made to allow for this process to continue. In addition, to favour ducks and waders, new open water surfaces have been created and a water catching wall has been built to extend the period of spring flooding.

Information about the nature reserve Tysslingen (in Swedish)

Project map Tysslingen (pdf) Pdf, 2 MB.

Venakärret – an extremely rich fen

Venakärret is situated next to the village of Älvhyttan and is known as an alkaline fen, or a rich fen. It gets the name from the soil being rich in minerals. In particular calcium is abundant. Therefore, rich fens often have a specialized and diverse fora. Here you will find several species of orchids, sedges, and mosses which are usually very uncommon else-where.

Haymaking meadows

Te species rich Venakärret has long been used for haymaking. Te regional demand for hay was high due to the extensive use of animals during the region’s mining era. Te entire fen and its surrounding areas can be seen designated for haymaking on old economic maps. The parts closest to the village were used for haymaking into the 1950s. Since then the fen has been left untouched, reeds and trees have slowly crept further into the fen, at the expense of many of the fen’s special plants and mosses.

Conservation efforts

Afer years of overgrowth the fen can almost not be seen because of all the trees, but thanks to the efforts of the Reclaim project Venakärret has once again become a visible part of the village. Today, cows graze the restored areas, and the meadows close to the village are kept open through mowing. Specific actions have been performed to favor some of the species adapted for the fen, such as the tiny Geyer’s whorl snail.

Information about the nature reserve Venakärret (in Swedish)

Project map Venakärret (pdf) Pdf, 2 MB.

Some measures taken in the wetlands

Example of actions performed during the six year long project:

  • 25 hectare tree cutting
  • 5 000 m fencing
  • 16 hectare shrub and tree clearing
  • 1 100 m wooden foot path and trail
  • 55 hectare grassland mowing
  • 2 viewing platforms
  • 245 hectare stump/tussock removal
  • 1 picnic and fire place
  • 9 hectare open water creation
  • 1 nature exhibition
  • 2 000 m bank and wall structures
  • 21 information signs
  • 5 700 m management and access roads
  • 22 habitat and species surveys

What happens after the project?

Both project areas have a history of overgrowth which has had a negative impact on their natural values. During the Reclaim project a wide variety of improvement measures have been performed, laying the foundation for a future sustainable management and conservation effort. But how will the project results live on? What will prevent the same thing from happening again?

Nature preserves with clear plans for the future

As part of the project a specific plan for how project results will live on after the project has been developed, an After-LIFE Conservation Plan. The single most significant condition that will keep Tysslingen and Venakärret open wetlands in the future is the fact that they are both protected as nature preserves. This means that the Swedish Government, through the County Administrative Board in Örebro, has the practical and financial responsibility for the management of these two wetlands. Each nature preserve has its own specific management plan, based on its own individual purposes, that specifies management needs. For Tysslingen and Venakärret these will be based on the monitoring efforts, conservation measures, reports, management

Life. Logga

LIFE is the EU ’s financial instrument supporting environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects throughout the EU.

More information about LIFE Länk till annan webbplats.

Natura 2000. Logga

Natura 2000 is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world. It offers a haven to Europe ’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats.


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