Restoration of a straightened section of Dviete River marks the completion of Dviete floodplain restoration. Many different activities have been carried out, but the success is symbolised by the return of the endangered corncrake’s (Crex crex) song in Dviete and the presence of thousands of geese during spring migration.
Historically, Nature park and Natura 2000 site „Dviete floodplain” has been one of the largest and best preserved functioning river floodplains in Latvia. It acts as a breeding ground for species such as the Great Snipe (Gallinage media), Corncrake, Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina) and others. Unfortunately, during the 20th century the floodplain’s grassland ecological quality has rapidly decreased because of the installation of drainage ditches and river straightening. As a result, the floodplain overgrew with bushes and became unsuitable to many indigenous species, including the corncrake.
To help the endangered bird species, a group of enthusiasts (Institute for Environmental Solutions (IES), Latvian Fund for Nature, ARK Nature Fund, Ilūkste Municipality, ELM Media, Latvian Environmental Protection Fund) began restoration activities in 2010. To aid the return of Dviete floodplain’s hydrological regime, the historical data analysis, field surveys and airborne remote sensing data analysis were crucial. The part of accumulated information was used to develop grazing scheme and create habitat suitability model for the corncrake.
The presence of the corncrake is the indicator of an ecologically healthy floodplain. To determine corncrake prevalence in the area and the habitats most suited for their needs, IES analysed research data which was obtained through the use of world-class research technologies – hyperspectral sensors, laser scanner and a high resolution RGB camera. The technologies are mounted on a specially applied research aircraft.
After the data analysis IES researchers detected the areas in Dviete floodplain which are the most suitable for corncrake breeding and measured their ecological status. Moreover, the researchers were able to predict the areas where corncrake could live after the restoration activities are done.
After the 5-year restoration in Dviete floodplain not only corncrake but also black stork (Ciconia nigra), great white egret (Egretta alba), lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina), whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus), natterjack (Bufo calamita), siberian iris (Iris sibirica), spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata) and other species that are highly protected both in Europe and Latvia have found their way back to Dviete floodplain. We hope to see more and more of them each year.