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  • Wyss Academy

Hydrology of the Bernese Fens

BERN HUB | Project LANAT-5

Our goal:

Our aim is to aid the creation and application of hydrological bases for the long-term conservation and rehabilitation of fens.

Intact fens, such as that pictured here on Engstligenalp, are important water reservoirs. They are central to protection of biodiversity and the climate. Photo: Hintermann & Weber

In a nutshell:

Fen habitats are biotopes with highly specialized flora and fauna and have been traditionally used as pastures or meadows. Intact fens serve to store CO2 and water, and can be used as attractive recreation areas when visitors are properly managed. Fens rely on water and are very sensitive to climate change. According to the existing Flachmoorverordnung (Fens Ordinance), adequate ecological buffer zones must be established around them. Maintaining a proper water balance is decisive for the long-term protection of fens. While a precautionary hydrological perimeter has been roughly modelled for the 106 Bernese raised bogs, such key basic knowledge is lacking for the restoration and maintenance of the canton’s fens.

In a first project step, an impact model was developed. It displayed robust results for fens in flysch. However, the model needs to be improved with regards to karstic areas and fens influenced by groundwater near lakes and rivers. In a second step, the impact model will be tested in practice using topographic, geological, and vegetation data. Afterwards, the model will be applied to all Bernese fens of national or regional importance. A user-friendly manual will be created for the responsible authorities tasked with implementing a precautionary perimeter as a basis for planning.

The Hohgant-Seefeld nature reserve: karren fields and sinkholes are typical of karstic areas. Modelling the water balance is challenging because waterflows mainly occur underground. Photo: Dominique Hindermann (Archive ANF)

In collaboration with:

Amt für Landwirtschaft und Natur des Kantons Bern LANAT (Office for Agriculture and Nature of the Canton of Bern)

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