The Rewilding Oder Delta team have just received a 1 million euro grant from the German Postcode Lottery. The funding will be used to support rewilding measures in the cross-border Ueckermünder Heath, with a focus on restoring and reconnecting rivers.
Rewilding in the Oder Delta is set to take an exciting leap forwards with a new grant of 1 million euros from the German Postcode Lottery. The money will be used to fund rewilding measures in the 1000 square-kilometre Ueckermünder Heath, a low-lying area of forest and wetland that straddles the German-Polish border, with a focus on the restoration and reconnection of rivers.
“We are incredibly grateful for this new grant, which is a testament to the success of the rewilding work we have carried out to date,” says Ulrich Stöcker, leader of the Rewilding Oder Delta Germany team. “The funding will have a hugely positive impact on our cross-border work, enabling us to restore a range of valuable habitats across the heath, with benefits for wildlife and nature-based tourism.”
Towards a wilder delta
Divided between Poland and Germany, the Oder Delta is one of central Europe’s wildest regions, comprising a mosaic of heaths, wetlands, forests, grasslands, waterways and lagoons (most notably the large Stettin Lagoon). Ongoing rewilding actions here have seen wildlife begin to thrive in more natural densities, with unmanaged natural processes reshaping the landscape.
With nature-based tourism also on the rise, growing numbers of people are visiting the delta to reconnect with nature and enjoy a chance to spot the area’s so-called “Big Seven” – the Baltic sturgeon, grey seal, beaver, white-tailed eagle, elk, wolf, and European bison. The delta is also a burgeoning hotspot for wildlife migration, with animals such as wolves, elk (also known as the moose in North America), European bison, and Eurasian lynx starting to use it as they move from east to west and recolonize parts of their former range.
A unique habitat
The extensive Ueckermünder Heath, which is crossed by the rivers Uecker, Randow and Beeke, is one of the delta’s most biodiverse habitats. One of the rarest breeding birds in Germany, the lesser spotted eagle, can be found here, with the Rewilding Oder Delta team already carrying out measures to improve the birds’ breeding and feeding habitat. Cranes and white-tailed eagles also breed in the heath’s forests and moors, while a pack of wolves has settled in the area and is also breeding.
The overall aim of restoration efforts in the heath area is to create diverse, self-regulating habitats that can store carbon, produce clean groundwater, and support an array of animal and plant species. This, in turn, will benefit the people of the Oder Delta by enabling further development of the local nature-based economy.
German Postcode Lottery grants are usually awarded at an annual gala in February, but the fourth installment of the event in 2021 had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A cheque for 1 million euros (for 2020) was unexpectedly handed to members of the Rewilding Oder Delta team during a visit by lottery representatives to the Peene Valley near Anklam in early March.
The Rewilding Oder team have received annual grants from the German Postcode Lottery since it was launched in 2016, although the award for 2020 represents a significant increase. The lottery allocates 30 percent of the ticket price to charitable causes that focus on education, social cohesion, human rights, and animal and environmental protection.