Mapping and restoring fens and lean wet meadows

The project is being implemented by Naturschutzbund Austria in partnership with the University of Vienna in the period of October 2022 until April 2024.

At Reißbach, a protected area of the Naturschutzbund NÖ. © Margit Gross


Fens and lean wet meadows, vital habitats in Central Europe and along the European Green Belt, face endangerment due to drainage and intensified land use. Loss of these species-rich areas impacts ecosystem services like water supply, flood protection, and CO2 sequestration; these impacts are further magnified by climate change. This rapid development is particularly evident in the Waldviertel region.



The project aims to preserve and restore fens and lean wet meadows along the European Green Belt, contributing to biodiversity protection and climate change adaptation. Three specific goals are pursued: improving knowledge of fen occurrence through remote sensing, testing measures to enable mowing despite wetness by closing and reopening drainage ditches, and raising awareness about the importance of these habitats to prevent further destruction.



  • Use machine learning to classify and locate fens and lean wet meadows and to identify mapping areas and potential restoration sites.
  • Implement restoration measures by closing drainage ditches, temporarily opening them before mowing to ensure the meadows are dry enough, and then closing them again.
  • Collaborate with locals to showcase and propose measures for their fens and wet meadows.
  • Facilitate the implementation of conservation measures.
  • Advocate and highlight the value of fens and wetlands.


Sanguisorba officinalis, an endangared species of lean wet meadows. © Margit Gross

Expected results

The project's key outcome is the recognition of the crucial role these habitats play in biodiversity conservation and climate protection. This understanding is essential to prevent further drainage of fens in the future. The project's significant achievements will include improved knowledge of fen and lean wet meadow distribution, as well as the implementation of effective management measures. These outcomes will pave the way for enhanced protection and restoration of these rich and important but yet ignored habitats.

Mapping and restoring fens and lean wet meadows

Nearest city:
České Budějovice (Czech Republic)

The project is being implemented in Northwestern Lower Austria, from Bad Großpertholz to Raabs.


Naturschutzbund Lower Austria
Mariannengasse 32/2/16,
A-1090 Wien

Contact person for the BESTbelt project is
Margit Gross margit.gross(at)

Duration: 15 months

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