A large growth of hemlock water dropwort, a deadly but protected species, has been relocated to Billwerder Island near Hamburg Port after a court ruling.
Sometimes mistaken for coriander or cilantro, hemlock water dropwort is a highly poisonous weed and is a protected species.
On 23 May, the Federal Administrative Court of Germany delivered its written judgement to the court’s decision of 9 February this year to the parties fighting a law suit over the loss of the hemlock water dropwort caused by dredging in the Hamburg Port area. The Court’s judgement contains some clarifications, making this work easier. A considerable part of this consists of an additional measure compensating for the loss of stocks of the hemlock water dropwort.
The Billwerder Island area has been chosen as especially well-suited to conservation of the plant. There, a number of old, disused sedimentation tanks belonging to Hamburg waterworks, will be opened to the effects of the tide. The old storage tanks will be designed with tide-ways, mudflats and islands, providing the hemlock water dropwort with a good habitat for the future.
Senator Frank Horch states: “I am pleased that with Billwerder Island, we have been quickly able to find a suitable area for the development of the hemlock water dropwort. This means that we have reached another milestone. Now it is the job of the planners to quickly firm up these planning measures. We are informing the EU Commission about the judgement and the new ‘Billwerder Island Tidal Connection’ project. In addition, we have informed the recognised nature protection associations of our plans concerning Billwerder Island area and have invited them for discussions.”
Prof. Dr. Hans-Heinrich Witte, the President of WSV – federal waterways and shipping agency stresses: “Jointly with Hamburg we are scrupulously preparing the technical planning and carrying out the necessary environmental investigations, with the aim of achieving full legal planning approval. We are processing the few shortcomings pinpointed by the Court for the upcoming supplementary proceedings, just as intensively and thoroughly.”
- Fairway adjustments for the Lower and Outer Elbe: Alternative cohesion measures for the hemlock water dropwort
- Conflict: Considerable adverse effect on the hemlock water dropwort
- Measure: Tidal connection at Billwerder Island
- Location: Hamburg, Central Borough, east of the mouth of the Dove Elbe into the North Elbe (Elbe km 615), North Elbe meadow landscape nature conservation area
- Utilisation: disused Elbe water filtration works, currently unused, listed structure
- Size: approx. 14 hectares
- Aim: Creating a tidal habitat especially suited to the hemlock water dropwort.
Brief description of the new habitat:
The former drinking water filtration works on Billwerder Insel was constructed in 1892, has been closed down since 1990 and is a listed structure. Of the four existing reservoirs, those suitable should be connected to the tide and redesigned. The tide will flow in from Holzhafen through an already existing gully under the A1 highway.
The reservoirs will, to a large extent, be unsealed and designed with tide-ways, mudflats and grove islands, to create optimal settlement conditions for the hemlock water dropwort. The existing reservoir base will remain at the reservoir rim. After completion of the coherence measures, the area will be registered in the European Nature Protection Network’s ‘Natura 2000’.