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Nature reserve Ormož Lagoons opening for public

Ormož, 8 September - The Ormož Lagoons, 55-hectare wetlands near Ormož Lake, were recently declared a nature reserve. After some maintenance work, the lagoons, an important shelter for many rare migratory waterbirds, were opened for public on Friday.

A stork.
Photo: Stanko Gruden/STA

The Ormož lagoons were created during the construction of the Ormož sugar factory. Large parts of the flooding forest near Ormož Lake were cut and pools for waste water were dug, which soon attracted waterbirds.

In the 1980s, some extremely rare species were spotted there and even some birds that have never been seen in Slovenia before.

"This area is of extreme national and international importance," the head of the Bird Watching Association (DOPPS), Damijan Denac, told the STA.

When the sugar plant was closed in 2006, the DOPPS started cooperating with the plant's management to preserve the wetlands and set up a nature reserve.

"The Ormož lagoons are an extraordinary example of decades long cooperation between industry and an environmental organisation. They are a nice example of how natural and cultural heritage can be protected," former CEO of the Ormož sugar factory Jurij Dogđa says in a booklet accompanying today's opening of the park.

The government declared the area a nature reserve this May and expanded it with additional contents to ensure the preservation of the fragile ecosystem.

Within the European project LIFE, the lagoons were repaired to improve the living conditions for birds, while additional nesting spots were created.

Visitors of the park will be able to take a 1.5-kilometre educational trail, including bird observation points and information panels.

A stable has also been set up for the cattle and water buffalo feeding in the area to maintain the ecosystem, Denac said.

By the end of 2016, a total of 266 bird species were recorded in the wider area of the Ormož Lagoons, which is 69% of all species ever spotted in Slovenia. The most frequent visitors of the area are Anatidae, herons and Charadriiformes.

"A total of 85 bird species nest here, many of which nest only here ... The area is one of the most important resting spots for migratory waterbirds and such concentrations of certain species as can be seen here have not been recorded anywhere else in Slovenia," Denac said.

© STA, 2017