The LIFE project 'Lippeauen'

In the area of the eastern Lippeauen (Lippe watermeadows) of the Soest district, from the Warendorf district to the City of Hamm, there is an area that deserves a high degree of ecological protection. The Lippe and its watermeadows are characterised here by a wide range of habitats: meandering streams, low-flow areas with dense beds of water lilies, oxbow lakes, ponds, little streams, reedbeds and grasslands.

Ecological diversity worth protecting

The "Lippe watermeadow between Hangfort and Hamm" is therefore subject to special protection as a Fauna Flora Habitat area (FFH area). It is an element of the European network of protected areas, "Natura 2000", which was created by the EU member states and covers FFH areas and bird protection areas.

These areas are identified throughout Europe for important habitats, plants and animals, and the legal basis is formed by the FFH Directive and the Birds Directive. Successful protection and the preservation of the special environments with their unique biodiversity are only possible if action is taken across political borders – and support given. Coordinated international action for the Natura 2000 areas was ensured through the LIFE-Nature subsidy tool of the European Commission, Directorate-General for the Environment.

Close interweaving of river and watermeadow

The project partners in the Life project included not only the LIPPEVERBAND, the City of Hamm, the Warendorf district and ABU Soest. A wide range of measures are planned in order to facilitate the protection and development of multifaceted flora and fauna and implement the aims of the project. A very important factor here is achieving close interweaving of river and watermeadow. A wide range of initial measures give nature a helping hand to get started, and it does the rest all by itself!

Overview of measures:

  • Releasing the riverbanks by removing the rocks added
  • Removal of artificial levees on the banks of the Lippe
  • Creating migration options for aquatic animals by means of a bypass channel
  • Extending the artificially straightened and shortened Lippe by means of a river bend
  • Near-natural restructuring of small waterways on the Lippe
  • Creation of typical watermeadow biotope elements with pools, flat waterways (shallow pools), a lake similar to an oxbow lake, many small waterways, and dunes
  • Extensive and semi-extensive agricultural management of the meadows and pastures (grassland)
  • Partial rewetting of the grassland by removing drainage systems and closing drainage ditches
  • Conversion of farmland into grassland
  • Broadly defined concept for publicity work with lectures, excursions, specialist conferences and events


LIFE stands for L'Instrument Financier de l'Environment, i.e. a funding tool for the environment. The 'Lippeaue' LIFE project, which aimed to preserve and develop natural habitats and wild flora and fauna in the FFH area designated "Lippe watermeadow between Hangfort and Hamm", was funded 50 percent (2.75 million euros) by LIFE-Nature. The Lippe watermeadows also have a very special significance for the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. Through its Ministry for Environment and Nature Preservation, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, the state provided 40 percent of the required funds (2.2 million euros) for the successful implementation of the LIFE project 'Lippeaue'. The remaining 10 percent of the funding was provided by the project partners.