05. b – Åtvidsnäs

Åtvidsnäs nature reserve is located very close to the small town of Åtvidaberg. This 80-hectare reserve offers a variety of broadleaf deciduous woodlands with different levels of openness, as well as grazed pastures and wet coastal woodlands. The area can be described as a mosaic landscape, alternating between open and more closed areas. Text: Frida Nilsson
Betesdrift bör påbörjas direkt efter restaurering för att förhindra igenväxning och främja ängsblommor. Foto Frida Nilsson.

When the reserve was founded in 2017, it had 16 hectares of pasture. Within the project, 45 hectares of oak pasture has been restored and five hectares of spruce has been converted to pasture. Historical maps show that a century ago, the area was much more open. During the 20th century, its use as pasture was stopped in much of the area, and the pastures were planted with spruce.

Early collaboration with animal keepers

In the project, large areas were restored to grazing land. For this reason, discussions were held with animal keepers already in the management plan. This early dialogue regarding fencing, water supply and plantations in the pastures made collaboration easier in several ways: shared expectations became clearer and unnecessary limitations in the management plan could be avoided.

Fence location, gates and catching pens are planned to facilitate transport of the animals between the pens. Existing fences are adjusted so that as many pastures as possible will have access to natural water. One ley, which was initially intended to be part of the same grass- land as the pasture, was fenced off. This turned out to be very fortunate during the dry year of 2018, because there was a shortage of fodder to harvest.

A restoration in three stages

The restoration work was, for various reasons, split into several stages. Doing everything at once would have been time consuming because the area is large and geographically diverse. Also, large volumes of timber had to be managed, mainly because of the decommissioning of several spruce plantations. By staging the restoration, the felling could be completed while the ground and weather conditions were conducive. Another advantage was that all the sub-areas could be fenced off immediately after felling. As a result, the grazing animals could be released in the same year as the restoration.

In the dense coastal woodlands, it was beneficial to let the animals graze for a few seasons before felling. When grazing, the animals created paths and clearings, which provided a starting point for the planning. The various stages made it possible to gradually change the habitat, without the oldest trees and their cryptogamic flora being shocked by the light. In the first stage, the large spruce plantations were decommissioned, and so as not to shock the older trees nearby, clearing around them was not done for a few years. Again, there were discussions about how intensive the felling should be, considering that the area had been overgrown for a long time.

Follow-up work on the spruce plantations

After the decommissioning of the spruce plantations, the stumps were ground down, which facilitated future measures and the management of the pasture. And visually, the former spruce woodland more quickly resembled pasture.

After felling and stump grinding, large areas in the reserve had neither grass nor bushes. To hasten the development of natural values, various measures were taken in order to create structures and important pollen and nectar resources. For instance, trees and bushes were planted in large cages, tree trunks were installed as dead wood in the area, and sand beds were created to assist pollinators.

Thanks to Life Bridging the Gap, it was possible to complete and extensive restoration of virtually the entire nature reserve in just a few years. It has been rewarding for the manager, and has received positive response from animal keepers as well as local residents and visitors to the reserve.