Ardmouperl - Restoration of pearl mussel populations in the Ardennes
The river Our has a transboundary basin across Belgium, Germany and Luxemburg. The main objective of the project was to set up and manage a breeding station to ensure the regular reintroduction of young pearl mussels to reinforce the size of the surviving population. Pearl mussel conservation was also indissociable from assuring the good state of the river ecosystem. Building on extensive contacts with local stakeholders, the project therefore carries out a series of measures including: removing dams and barriers or fitting them with fish passes; monitoring and reinforcing the trout population (as part of the pearl mussel breeding and release actions); restoring gravel banks free of silt or clay; monitoring water quality and identifying and removing local sources of pollution; restoring natural riverbanks by cutting exotic conifers (4 ha) and planting indigenous trees (4 ha); and preventing cattle entering the river with 2.5 km of fencing. A band of land at least 4m wide along the Our and its tributaries, totaling 5 ha, is purchased to ensure an appropriate restoration and management. The project finally takes a series of actions to enhance awareness among the local population and stakeholders, including fishing and hunting clubs, recreational operators and farmers.