Lille Vildmose: a bog restoration project for the public and peatlands

The Natura 2000 area in Lille Vildmose hosts one of the largest lowlands raised bogs in north-western Europe, comprising half of all raised bog areas in Denmark. However, during the past 250 years, the central part of the site 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 continued 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. Yet, despite all this, Lille Vildmose still harbours over 2 000 ha of active raised bog, a priority habitat type under the EU Habitats Directive, and hosts an important number of rare and endangered species including sundew, cloudberry, sphagnum, white-tailed eagle, golden eagle, wood sandpiper, crane and short-eared owl.

With the support of LIFE programme funds, 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 to protect the remaining bog from further degradation and restore an optimal hydrology to the central zone.

A wide range of actions has 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 200 ha, grazing by elks and red deer was established on 2 100 ha and the re-growth of sphagnum was kick-started on 12 ha. Invasive alien species such as the American mink and the raccoon dog and fox, all a threat to breeding bird species, were controlled. Two observation platforms, a boardwalk and eight new information boards were installed for the public to explore and learn more about the Natura 2000 site.

Conservation activities are proving very effective. The monitoring carried out in recent years is showing a clear improvement of the conservation status of the raised bog areas with visible regrowth of sphagnum species in several places.

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