PROJEKT: Restoration of habitats for root vole *Microtus oeconomus mehelyi

A wetland could be characterized as a habitat, existence of which is conditioned by water. This territory can be soaked with water on a permanent or seasonal basis. It is just the water presence that creates a specific habitat in the country with characteristic stands such as reed stands and hygrophilous (moisture-loving) plant species providing proper conditions for various animal species from insects up to mammals. To humans, attractiveness of wetlands is increased with a possibility to watch rare species of waterfowl. There are several wetland types in Slovakia: river floodplains, swamps, peatbogs and fens.

Over the last century, we have seen the disappearance of many wetland habitats due to anthropogenic interventions. The reason lied in an effort to transform wetlands into a productive soil. However, wetlands have also vanished during implementation of flood-protection measures. The scientific studies show that almost 64 % of worldwide wetlands disappeared since 1800. This is the case of serious negative trend, given that the wetlands play indispensable role in the country. They belong to the most productive worldwide eco-systems: they participate in removal of chemical and organic waste from water and thus becoming an irreplaceable source of potable and utility water. Moreover, they are a source of food, support biodiversity, protect us from floods and erosion as well as store carbon dioxide. From the standpoint of economy, they provide a wide scale of cultural ecosystem services in the form of tourism. The wetlands represent centres of recreation and tourist activities, which improve the economic status of many areas.

We have become fully aware of these facts because of the raising climate crisis, which shows that only a varied landscape is able to cushion the impacts of climatic changes as well as more frequent extreme weather events effectively. However, the present alarming condition is not irreversible. Many of the past mistakes can be corrected. A change for the better is a long-time process, indeed, requiring us all to be engaged. The sooner we start, the more stable country we preserve for our future generations.

The figurative annex shows the wetlands with the root vole occurrence in Slovakia. These sites were restored by our LIFE project in the past. We intend to continue in the restoration actions within this project.

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