Skövde researchers evaluate the restoration of Lake Hornborga
The job seemed tailor-made for researchers at the University of Skövde. That is how the three ecologists felt when they saw that the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency was going to evaluate the restoration of Lake Hornborga. Up until September, they will now assess the consequences for birds, plants, and water which the restoration has led to.
“It felt natural for us to assist in this evaluation. We have had a couple of students who did their university-degree projects on Lake Hornborga and then we’re also the university closest to the lake. Furthermore, we have former students who work at the Naturum at Lake Hornborga and who are employed by the county administrative board. One of them did her/his final project on Lake Hornborga.”
The one saying this is Annie Jonsson, one of three researchers involved in this undertaking. The other two are Per Toräng and Tomas Jonsson. They are all senior lecturers at the School of Bioscience at the University of Skövde and they have substantial knowledge and experience from similar projects.
“The purpose of our work is to learn before there will be restoration projects in this area in the future and acquire knowledge that can be used before similar restoration projects will be carried out in other areas,” says Annie.
For about two hundred years, Lake Hornborga has been used to increase the land for agriculture and forestry. The water level was lowered five times and up until the 1930s, the lake was almost completely dried up. The lake became overgrown with forest, bushes, sedge, and reed. During the latter part of the 1980s, a restoration was initiated in order to recreate the bird lake. Reed, forest, and bushland were removed and logged. The rise of the water level was completed in 1995. The intention was to restore the lake to a situation that would correspond to its state in the period 1877–1904 when it had its maximum development as a bird lake.
The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency will now evaluate the effects of the restoration project.
“Our job is to see what consequences this will have had on biodiversity when it comes to bird life, plants, and limnology—or the water in the lake. The issues here are if the objective of the restoration has been met, if Lake Hornborga has been restored as a living bird lake. We’re not going to do fieldwork but rather focus on recent data and compare those with data from before 1988 when the lake was at its most overgrown state.”
Annie does not want to speculate on what results she and her colleagues will obtain; they want to be perfectly objective. But it is obvious that this is something that entices her.
“It’s going to be great fun. Not only for us directly involved. It will also be useful for our students; this is something we can use in our teaching in the future which makes it even more fun.”
The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency will spend in total one and a half million Swedish kronor on the evaluation including the impact on agriculture as well as tourism and outdoor life. The University of Skövde has calculated with a cost of 500,000 kronor and the project will be completed by the end of September this year.