Monday, September 17, 2012

Human made nature? The story of Rieselfelder nature conservation area

During the Geostat meeting (, an excursion to the Rieselfelder area a meadow bird conservation area near Muenster was organized. It is one of these areas where human have accidentally shaped a landscape that turned out to conserve nature. A nice example of how unexpected rural areas developments shape the current European rural landscape. 
The major and regulation pond
Rieselfelder used to be shaped by sewage farming. Beginning of the century, the waste water of Muenster were directed to Rieselfelder, where the waste water was used to fertilize the land. As the city of Muenster grew, more and more waste water was directed to the area and farming became impossible in the middle of the century. Only in the late seventies the city of Muenster put an waste water plant into operation. In the meantime, waste water continued flowing into the abandoned Rieselfelder area. The waste water laid there and create small ponds full of mud and prevented tree and shrubs to grow. The openness of the landscape and also the nutritious mud attracted many meadow birds who found there the peace for breeding and abundant food, in a time where these types of landscape disappeared from the European map. 
A smaller pond
Today, after several attempt to transform the Rieselfelder area into an industrial zone, it finally became a nature conservation area under the European bird directive. It is formed of several ponds with rids where meadow bird find the safety and silence to breed. The recycled water from the waste water plant flows into the biggest pond, that also serves as a reservoir. During the summer, the water from the reservoir is used to fill the other small ponds making sure that the area stays wet enough. The decreasing level of water in the reservoir during this period results in a bigger muddy zones, which insures that the meadow bird find sufficient food during the breeding time. 
The regulation point of the major pond/reservoir
The whole area has also been well planned for recreation and attracts the city dwellers who less than 10 km from the town center find a place to relax, without disturbing the breeding meadow birds. Also the biological field station offers children program so that every child regardless of her/his background can discover nature. The biological field station also maintains the area with some employees and many volunteers and collect data about meadow birds. 

It is an interesting story showing that the lack of urban planning has created an environment that on other location has disappeared and has become today one of the crucial nodes in Europe for migrating birds : a multifunctional landscape worth a visit and some thoughts about the human nature interaction.
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