02 Lippeaue - Lippe Floodplain
Semi-natural floodplain landscapes along the Lippe
The Lippe Floodplain is rich in habitat diversity: meadows and pastures, dry sand heaths, tall forb communities and small forests can be found in the floodplain. The river flows through the floodplain slowly and is accompanied by numerous ponds, pools and small swamps. In some places, streams supply the floodplain with additional water.
Floods in winter and spring act like a magnet for ducks, wading birds and geese. During the spring, flood waters slowly drain away leaving residual areas of water that are still frequented by birds that breed and find food here.
In some areas of the floodplain, semi-wild cattle and horses graze all the year round. Their activity creates semi-open pasture habitats. The Klostermersch Nature Reserve is an impressive example of what such a richly structured landscape looks like after about 15 years.
The State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Lippe River Management Association and the NRW-Stiftung (North Rhine-Westphalia Foundation) undertake a great deal of conservation work in the Lippe Floodplain. Since the mid-1990s, about 15 km of the Lippe have been renaturated. As a result, the river has regained its dynamism. In many areas, bank reinforcements have been removed. Viewing and observation points and seats have been installed along the route to provide good opportunities to experience the floodplain. In addition to the main route that leads south along the Lippe, there are shorter round trips west of Hovestadt/Herzfeld (Herzfeld Lippe Floodplain) and around Lippborg (Lippborg Lippe Floodplain).
There is a great diversity of species and habitats.
The Tall Oat-Grass meadows and the wet meadows offer habitats for rare species of plant: Pepper Saxifrage, Yellow Meadow Rue, Meadow Fleabane and Yellow Rattle all grow here. The sandy river terraces are the realm of specialist plants: Petty Whin, Small Cudweed and Heather cope here with the nutrient-poor conditions that make life impossible for other species.
Wading birds such as Snipe and Greenshank, ducks species like Widgeon and Teal, as well as Cranes, are just some of the species that overwinter in the Lippe Floodplain or stop off during migration.
Since 2007, White Storks have re-established themselves as breeding birds in the Lippe Floodplain. In 2015 there were already four pairs.
Lapwings, Teal, Shoveler and sporadically Curlew breed in the wet meadows. Red-backed Shrikes favour the semi-open pastures, while the Marsh Harrier nests in the tall forb meadows along the Lippe. In spring, you can hear the calls of Golden Oriole, Stock Dove and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker as you pass the riparian forests.
Frogs and dragonflies populate the bodies of water. From the wet meadows you can hear the "clicking" of the Water-Meadow Grasshopper. In recent years, Beavers have returned to the Lippe. Their impressive work can be seen in the marsh area called "Winkel", near the town of Lippborg. Unfortunately, the nocturnal rodents themselves cannot normally be observed, but it is very easy to see their relative the Coypu (an introduced marsh-dwelling animal from South America), which is present everywhere along the river.