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  • Our team has published a research paper on the "Initial biological development of a newly established side channel at the Lower Rhine" in the Journal "International Review of Hydrobiology". It describes the ecological and morphodynamic development of the side channel of the Emmericher Ward using data from before and after its completion. Ecological parameters include macrozoobenthos, fish, avifauna and vegetation.

    To read the paper on the Journal´s website use the following link:

  • What looks like a strange piece of agricultural equipment is part of the explosive ordnance disposal. Starting on Friday, it will be used to drive over the grounds of the Emmericher Ward nature reserve to discover metal in the soil such as World War II bombs. Possible finds will be mapped and later excavated.

    This is the next step in rewetting the silted-up flood depressions and water bodies. These were cleared of vegetation in February. Restoration of  the water bodies will start in late summer. Keep your fingers crossed that we don´t get an explosive surprise.

    Photo: NABU-Naturschutzstation-Niederrhein

  • Emmerich – There is nothing fishy going on when saws and excavators move into the Emmerich Ward nature reserve this week. The clearing is part of the maintenance and development measures carried out by the NABU Lower Rhine Nature Conservation Station and funded by the EU and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The aim is to preserve the Emmericher Ward as an important floodplain habitat for endangered species and as a resting place for migratory birds.

    The Emmericher Ward nature reserve is part of the internationally important wetland and EU bird sanctuary "Unterer Niederrhein", which stretches from Duisburg to the Netherlands. However, this wetland suffers from a lack of water due to the deepening of the riverbed of the Rhine, increasing periods of low precipitation and groundwater levels that have been falling for years. The Emmericher Ward has become too dry as well.

    EU project for rewetting

    As part of the EU-funded LIFE project "Wetland Emmericher Ward", silted-up oxbow lakes and tidal pools are being restored and water is being retained in the landscape as it used to be. "These measures will create the basis for typical floodplain habitats," says Klaus Markgraf-Maué, board member of the NABU Lower Rhine Nature Conservation Station and responsible project manager. "we also hope to bring back some endangered species, such as the curlew, which used to breed here."

    The project has supra-regional significance. Markgraf-Maué: " This is a pilot project to test how to sucessfully rewet an area, so that other areas with similar problems can benefit from our experience."

    Clearing of wood in February

    One of the rewetting measures is to turn silted-up floodplain waters back into actual bodies of water. To start the actual measures these areas need to be cleared of already established woody plants, which began on Monday. In the next step, they will be inspected by the explosive ordnance disposal department so that they can then be dredged in the summer.

    Project for nature and people

    The LIFE project "Wetland Emmericher Ward" contributes to the fulfilment of the obligations of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia to preserve and develop the EU bird sanctuary "Unterer Niederrhein". The construction work is financed by the EU and the state of NRW.

    Wherever possible, local companies will be commissioned to carry out the construction work, so that this project not only benefits the fauna and flora and the floodplain habitat, but also the local economy.

    large curlew (Numenius arquata)
    (Photo: Otto de Zoete)


    Grubbing-up work
    (Photo: NABU-Naturschutzstation Niederrhein)

  • Finally the time has come!

    The handover to the Langenfurth company took place on 13 January 2022. This company will carry out the clearing, which is necessary in the run-up to the explosive ordnance detection and the actual construction work. The work will start as soon as the water level drops and will end in February.

    Meeting on site (Photo: Langenfurth Baugesellschaft mbH)


  • In October, the new Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia Hendrik Wüst (then still minister of transport) visited the nature reserve Emmericher Ward. He was interested in the successful construction and "operation" of the side channel (LIFE project “Side channel Emmericher Ward”). Since its completion in 2017 it developed into a species-rich river habitat without affecting the shipping industry on the waterway which runs right next to it. It is connected to the Rhine main channel at a level of the mean water level minus one meter.

    Project manager Klaus Markgraf-Maué made it clear that it is necessary to restore further side channels –dynamic and in the best case permanently flooded ones- if we want to reestablish more biodiversity along the river.

    The importance of the planned restoration of the wetland character of the floodplain was also explained to the Prime Minister during his visit.


    Klaus Markgraf-Maué (NABU Naturschutzstation Niederrhein) and Dr. Heide Naderer (state chairwoman of NABU NRW) in conversation with Hendrik Wüst (Prime Minister of NRW).
    (Photo: Lena Wiest)

  • Monitoring the sites where seeds of rare plant species were planted in autumn 2020 and spring 2021 we observed successful establishment of meadow sage in most of the areas. In addition to meadow sage (Salvia pratensis) the areas were sown with seeds of lesser meadow rue (Thalictrum minus), crested hair-grass (Koeleria macrantha) and small scabious (Scabiosa columbaria). We are very happy about the success in the case of the sage and will continue to monitor the progress.

    (Photo: Lena Wiest)

    (Photo: Lena Wiest)

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