Mowings and scrub-clearing
The alkaline fens, excluded the areas purchased by Friuli Venezia-Giulia Region, have been abandoned since the ’70s, when family-owned little stables - that made use of straw produced by wetlands – shut down.
The project involves the whole mowing and scrub-clearing of 42 hectares.
Cut-off materials are carried away with the aid of winches while four wheels-drive tractors are used only in the frost period without snow or in strong drought periods.
The lack of mowing and the water table lowering caused a radical vegetation modification with the loss of diversity in behalf of a few species such as Cladium mariscus and Molinia caerulea, and the beginning of scrub encroachment by the action of Frangula alnus, Salix cinerea and Alnus glutinosa. That is why the Annex II species Armeria helodes (priority species), Erucastrum palustre and Euphrasia marchesetti have disappeared together with other interesting speciessuch as Orchis palustris, Spiranthes aestivalis, Anagallis tenella, etc.
Therefore, the project involves the herbaceous plants mowing inside the purchased – or in purchasing – lands and the scrub-clearing in the habitats which are still recoverable.
In the alkaline fens, these activities are usually made by hand with strimmers, chain saws or two-wheel mowing machines.
This action involved the trimming and mowing of about 40 acres of long time abandoned fens (30 hecatares) and Molinia wet meadows(about 9 hectares).
The sensitivity of fens environment and the objective difficulties due to the presence of water, required manual operations and the use of trimmers or small cars with low tire pressure. These environments are often flooded and movements are difficult, but it is important to remove the cutted material to avoid a further enrichment of these oligotrophic habitats.
The used technical solution is a kind of sled: the mowed material is poured on a tarpaulin, placed through a small winch on a tractor outside the fen and then dragged out. This material then becomes the basis for some restoration activities. Only in some cases was necessary - and possible - a limited use of tractors (because of the freezing of the soil or during periods of severe drought).
The works were carried out during the dormant season from November to late February, with some differences from year to year.
The mechanical means are used for mowing the wet meadows, less susceptible to mechanical damages and more easily transitable. For the development of this action has been purchased a tractor with some accessories for materials cut and collection. All these equipments are necessary to reduce working time, allowing to work on large surfaces.