The Natura 2000 area in Lille Vildmose hosts one of the largest lowland raised bogs in northwestern Europe, comprising half of all raised bog areas in Denmark. However, during the past 250 years the central part has been comprehensively exploited, starting with the drainage of four natural lakes followed by years of peat extraction and agriculture. As a result, less than half of the original bog remains today.
The widespread lowering of the groundwater - one of the major threats to the existence of the bog - has led to a large-scale invasion of trees, which has in turn accelerated the drainage of the remaining active bog area. But, despite all this, Lille Vildmose still harbours over 2000 ha of active raised bog, a habitat type protected by the EU Habitats Directive, (7110*) and hosts an important number of sometimes rare and endangered species of flora and fauna including sundew, cloudberry, sphagnum, white-tailed eagle, golden eagle, wood sandpiper, crane and short-eared owl.
With the support of the LIFE fund, the state authority Naturstyrelsen, in partnership with the local municipality of Aalborg and the private foundation/landowner Aage V. Jensen Nature fund launched a major restoration programme. The aim was to protect the remaining bog from further degradation, and restore optimal hydrology in the central part to ensure bog recovery and re-growth of bog-specific vegetation such as sphagnum.
A wide range of actions have been carried out. The water level was raised by more than 750 ha by physically erecting membranes and dams alongside existing raised bog surfaces, a 130 ha natural lake was re-stored, trees were cleared from 200ha, grazing by elks and red deer was established on 2100ha and the re-growth of sphagnum was kick-started on 12ha. Invasive alien species like the American mink and the raccoon dog and fox, all a threat to breeding bird species as they eat both eggs and chicks, were controlled. Two observation platforms, a boardwalk and 8 new information boards were installed for the public to explore and learn more about the Natura 2000 site and the species and habitats it protects.
Conservation activities are proving very effective. The closure of ditches, and the sheet-piling and laying of membranes have resulted in the immediate raising of groundwater to the desired levels. The monitoring carried out in recent years is showing clear improvement of the conservation status of the raised bog areas with visible regrowth of sphagnum species in several places.