The water quality of the streams in the Vogtland area is critical to the survival of the endangered freshwater pearl mussel. Only near-natural streams meet the necessary Class I water quality.
One tool in the conservation of watercourses is the “rewilding” of degraded and deepened streams and rivers. A project by the Erzgebirge/Vogtland Nature Park in the Tetterweinbach stream valley demonstrates how stream valleys that were once intensively exploited can be restored to near-natural conditions. To achieve this, the stream was provided with a new riverbed made up of a number of structural elements. After just a few years, fauna typical of stream environments returned to the area.
A potential spawning site for river trout and amphibians was created by constructing a settling basin to improve the water quality and by removing the canalisation of the Fuhrbach stream in Tiefenbrunn and Pabstleithen in the Vogtland Eichigt district. The restoration of the area to a meandering meadow stream landscape largely aligned with the stream’s original course.
We commissioned two studies to improve the water quality of the streams hosting pearl mussels and to limit the influx of communal wastewater and agricultural substances. The recommendations of the wastewater study have now been fully implemented. As part of the agriculture study, we are reshaping the ditch in Obertriebel and the fire pond in Ebmath to create near-natural conditions.
A station supporting the semi-natural breeding and reintroduction to the wild of young freshwater pearl mussels has been created in Bad Brambach in the Raun district (Rauner Grund 14) with the cooperation of the Vogtlandkreis district, the Saxony State Foundation for Nature and the Environment (LaNU), the Südsachsen Mulde/Elster Angling Association, the Vogtland Nature and Environment Centre, and the Erzgebirge/Vogtland Nature Park Special-Purpose Association. The project partners also use their diverse profiles, experiences and training to maintain the populations of adult mussels, improve water quality and habitats, plan for emergencies, and undertake environmental education and public outreach activities.
The Vogtlandkreis district has been responsible for the freshwater pearl mussel station since 2016. The collaborative project ArKoNaVera (www.flussmuscheln.de), led by TU Dresden, is working to develop further protection measures for both freshwater pearl mussels and painter’s mussels.