What makes the
Lower Ems so special
The Lower Ems downriver from Herbrum is influenced by the ebb and flow, has freshwater/saltwater/brackish water zones, and is thus one of the "expanded mouths" that experts refer to as an estuary. Before human encroachment such landscapes between the river and sea - such as the Elbe, Weser, and Eider - were shaped by distributaries and tidal inlets, marshlands and ponds, still bodies of water and shallow water zones, riparian forest and reeds. Now many of the habitats typical of an estuary are threatened, or have vanished, as a result of straightening, deepening, reinforcement, and embankments.
The Master Plan Ems 2050 intends to recreate typical estuary habitats while maintaining the Ems's function as a shipping waterway.
Estuaries are the point of transfer and contact between marshland, river, and sea wildlife. Migrating fish species that return to their spawning grounds as adults use the estuary as a passageway. Only when this is possible is the animals' offspring secure. Shallow water zones play a crucial role as "nurseries" for the young fish. These habitats are necessary for the survival of migrating species of fish like salmon, houting, sturgeon, lampreys, eels, and shads, as well as many non-migrating fish and large mussels. One future objective is for bearded tits, among others, to breed in expanded reed belts. Large riparian forests are also a habitat for penduline tits, orioles, and otters, among others.
Furthermore, brackish water marshes produce a lot of biomass and are home to a multitude of invertebrate species – a crucial source of sustenance for many breeding birds and passage migrants.
In order to improve and expand these habitats and their biodiversity, the Master Plan Ems 2050 stipulates the creation of more estuary habitats along the banks of the river. The Master Plan foresees the acquisition of 500 hectares near the river by 2050 for this purpose. New inland bird conservation areas are planned for the potential deterioration of meadow bird habitats (e.g. through the formation of riparian forest and reed zones).