‘Abissage’ - restoring traditional water management systems in the Ardennes

Restoration of a meadow irrigation ditch to revive a multi-centennial tradition that existed throughout Europe and over time has produced meadows of outstanding flora. 

Full Project description EN PDF icon (409.33 KB)
Project summary: 

For more than 400 years, a practice of grassland irrigation for mowing has developed throughout Europe to ensure effective fodder production on less fertile lands. This type of management has introduced rich and diversified flora in large areas of the Belgian Ardennes. 
Due to the intensification of agriculture and use of chemical fertilisers, these practices disappeared shortly after WWII. These exceptional sites are in danger of disappearing and their classification under Natura 2000 is not enough to save them. RDP support was used to protect this site by restoring the irrigation ditches and the traditional water management practices.

Project results: 

A small level of fodder production has been achieved without using fertilisers.
The meadow is classified as a site of great environmental interest. Up to 50 different species can be found on the site including extremely vulnerable species, compared to barely a dozen in usual pasture meadows. 
Wildlife has also found an interesting habitat and the site is visited by black storks and amphibians.
The restoration of a second site in the German-speaking community of Belgium is planned. This would make it possible to propose a site in each region of Belgium to UNESCO and request recognition of these devices and their protection.