Uitkerkse polder - A surplus value for nature and people
The project focused on the purchase and restoration of the Uitkerkse Polder deteriorated grassland, in Belgium. The project achieved its aim of adding conservation value to the Uitkerkse Polder. Land acquistion increased the coverage of protected areas within the Polderâ€™s nature reserve by 156.48 ha. This extension of the nature reserve helped to improve habitat management by reducing fragmentation and allowing for an optimal management of large, coherent blocks of land. Following land purchases, practical start-up restoration and conservation works were undertaken on more than 100 ha. This resulted in the creation of a vast network of marshes and salty grasslands, comprising ditches, ponds, restored reed-banks, new naturally shaped canal banks, etc. Impacts of these improved habitat features on breeding, resting and wintering birds have been monitored closely, and have resulted in remarkable increases of local densities and breeding successes for many bird species. Socio-economic results have also been positive and these are attributed to increased tourist trade for local businesses linked to the new visitor centre and exhibition facilities.