Kirr Island in Germany

Naturefund and the National Park Office of Western Pomerania purchased 129.060 m² of territory on Kirr Island in the Baltic Sea to include the territory permanently in the National Park. Its saltmarsh meadows and the intact tideway system make Kirr Island a unique refuge for coastal birds.

A Coastal Bird Paradise

The island Kirr is one of the most famous bird sanctuaries on the southern Baltic coast. It is part of the national park "Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft" and is with its branched tidal system, the extensive salt marshes and intact coastal inundation bogs as a tundra-like inundation grassland a unique biotope of international importance. The area consists of 44% grassland and 56% swamp and water area. The island covers a total of 370 ha.

Around twenty-three different species of coastal birds nest there, including avocets, lapwing, redshank and the oystercatcher. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the rare ruff breeds only on this island. Many of these species are threatened with extinction and are on the Red List for endangered bird species. In addition, the island is an important resting place for cranes, where thousands of cranes rest every year during their migration.

Protection zone II with 300 bovine animals


The Nationalparkamt Vorpommern is in charge of the national park "Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft" in order to preserve the natural biotope and biological diversity on the island for future generations in the long term. For this purpose, the national park has been divided into different protection zones. The island of Kirr is located in protection zone II, in which the habitat for endangered animals and plants is to be preserved through targeted measures.

One of these measures includes 300 cattle, which are brought to the island every spring by ferry and live there wild during the summer. They graze the valuable salt marshes, keeping them free of bushes and trees, thus preserving one of the most important breeding areas for the local birdlife.

Special Characteristics

The drowned grassland of Kirr Island and its intact tideway system are remarkable peculiarities at the coast of the Baltic Sea, which is otherwise severely altered for coastal protection and land improvement. The island is submerged at high tides, but the tideways, help to drain a major part of the water from the estuary. Nevertheless, some water always remains standing in pools or evaporating in salt pans.

Kirr Island was always used as a pasture. Centuries of floods and treading beasts caused plant remains to be insulated from the air, creating unique coastal flood mires on the island.

Background

Kirr Island belongs to the National Park Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft and is tended to by the National Park Office. The purpose of this project is to preserve this important breeding site at the German Baltic coast. By purchasing a part of the private property on the island, the National Park Office will be able to further protect the breeding places of water birds and shorebirds.

History

An 'Insule in Kyrre' was first mentioned in 1336. The modern name Kirr is recorded since approx. 1696 and signifies 'a place covered with shrubs or bushes'.

In the first half of the 20th century, there were two farms on the island - one of which has only ruins left standing. The other farm is located on the east side of the island. Kirr became an official bird protection zone in 1972 and a part of the National Park about 30 years ago in 1990.

Concept for Protection

The pastures are maintained by a landscape conservation company. Pasturing of the island by cattle helps to preserve the flood saltmarsh grassland.

 

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