European wetland habitats have strongly declined in the past two centuries and especially in the past few decades. In Slovenia, a lack of appropriate management over the last 50 years has led to wetland loss and degradation. During this period many wetland areas were modified and drainage systems were constructed, especially for agricultural land and forests. Between 1973 and 1991 more than 70 000 ha of lowlands were drained. In addition, flood control schemes have canalised natural meandering streams and restricted naturally fast-flowing waters. Agricultural intensification has been the main anthropogenic factor causing wetland loss and degradation throughout Slovenia. Official figures show a decrease of almost 40% (1 282 ha) between 1950 and 1992 in reed beds, marshes and ponds. Slovenian wetlands have also been adversely affected by indirect impacts – industrial development, urbanisation, the introduction of alien species and disturbance by the expansion of tourism and recreation.
The overall goal of the project is to re-establish a favourable conservation status for eight targeted freshwater habitats and six wetland habitat SCIs. The project sites – Pohorje, Zelenci, Vrhe, Planik, Gornji kal and Mura-Petišovci – contain different types of wetlands, all of which have suffered from a lack of appropriate management.
- An increase in the size and quality of targeted habitats and the habitats of targeted species;
- Restoration of the structure of bogs, mires, oxbows and other wetland habitats, and a general increase in biodiversity;
- Revitalisation of the most south-easterly distribution range of active raised bogs in the EU;
- Improvement of the habitat of the southernmost populations of black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) and capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) in the Alpine region of the EU and a significant reduction in disturbance of these species;
- Revitalisation of the oxbow lakes and related species of Community importance in the Mura river, including fish such as the mudminnow (Umbra krameri), amphibians (Bombina bombina and Triturus carnifex), dragonflies (Leucorrhinia pectoralis) and European pond turtles (Emys orbicularis);
- Incorporation of conservation guidelines into sector management plans to ensure active ongoing management of project areas after LIFE;
- Establishment of an integrated systematic approach for standing freshwater wetlands management in Slovenia that will have a demonstrative value for the conservation of other standing freshwater habitats and habitats of species of Community importance in Slovenia included in the Natura 2000 network; and
- Raised awareness about the importance of wetland species and habitats, the Natura 2000 network and biodiversity among landowners, local communities, visitors and local and national authorities.