Back To Nature

Wherever we gaze, natural habitat is vanishing. All of us are aware of the tragic destruction of rain forest, which not only creates, but also compounds global warming, as earth’s green lung is no longer available to inhale thermogenic carbon dioxide in the wonderful process of photosynthesis, which happens to exhale oxygen as an afterthought, in a way. Wetlands, on which countless animals and plants depend, are a second crucial environment that is disappearing at a dizzying pace. In the face of these losses, resignation, if not despair, is an understandable reaction. Fortunately, any restoration of life-giving spheres also restores a little glimmer of hope.

I have been heartened to learn of the success of several such projects during my previous sojourns in Germany. My roots lie in Rheinhessen, a region dominated by the Rhine River, as the name implies. Not far from the Rohrwiesen near the small town of Rheindürkheim (the topic of a previous post) lies a second sanctuary, called Eich-Gimbsheimer Altrhein (literally Old Rhine). A meandering stream for millennia, the Rhine was straightened in the 1820s, which left most of its loops to their own devices. Many dried up, but some, like the body of water in question, received sufficient quantities of water from the ground or skies, aided by occasional flooding of the stream. These inundations were subsequently prevented by the construction of a dam, and the marshes were drained and converted into arable land. The ground water level dropped further when wells were drilled to extract drinking water.

Happily, multi-pronged efforts in recent decades transformed the Old Rhine arm into a lake, and resurrected the adjacent wetlands. The 667 hectare area of this nature preserve forms part of the Natura 2000 network, an EU initiative that has as its goal the protection of threatened habitat, with its attendant plant and animal species. While it represents but a minuscule sliver of the surface of the earth, it has resulted in the flourishing of the local flora and fauna, and the provision of a way station for migratory birds. A 3.7 mile loop with several observation huts and towers circles and transects the parcel and affords glimpses of the Altrheinsee (Old Rhine Lake), of several water-filled gravel pits, of wetlands, of small pockets of swamp forest, and of the surrounding agricultural fields.

Because all my visits have happened in late autumn, I have yet to witness the full spectrum of vibrant life, and look forward to experiencing it in springtime. As modest as this haven might be, it nevertheless serves as an example of how we can save our planet, one baby step at a time.

To enlarge a photo, click on it. To read its caption, hover the cursor over it.

Click here for the German version/bitte hier für die deutsche Version klicken:

https://tanjaschimmel.wordpress.com/2018/12/11/zuruck-zur-natur/

41 thoughts on “Back To Nature

  1. In my opinion, human overpopulation is the biggest reason for many daunting problems. All of these people put incredible stress on resources, and cause enormous amounts of pollution. When I was a kid there were three billion people in the world. Now there are over seven billion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Nirmala. The duck at Central Park made even the international news, Nirmala, as I learned from some German bloggers. I saw the news reports, too. Unfortunately, I have not yet seen one in real life, but hope to remedy this situation one of these days.

      Like

  2. Lovely post, Tanja. I love seeing or hearing about thriving wetlands. It’s pretty cool that humans choose to build them sometimes (sad when they choose to destroy way too many). City wetlands are magical places; I’m always amazed by the variety of birds they attract. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I would love to visit your home country one of these days, Kavitha, and see the swallows that fly all the way between Europe and South Africa. Amazing creatures, and I hope we humans will realize that we need them to survive, if we want to do the same.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Tanja – An enjoyable and interesting post. I am happy to hear about projects like this and that they are a success. Your photos are quite beautiful. I hope that you get to visit it in spring. I am looking forward to more wonderful images! -Jill

    Liked by 1 person

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