Kristianstads Vattenrike – The cranes

In late March/early April every year, Kristianstads Vattenrike is visited by thousands of cranes that stop to have a break on their long journey from southern Europe to their breeding locations in northern Sweden. The cranes rest in the floodplain meadows in the Pulken Nature Reserve. The meadows were restored by the municipality 30 years ago. Today, grazing cattle keep the meadows open, supporting a range of rare plants and animals. However, the cranes’ time of arrival coincides with the spring sowing of barley and wheat in the area, which is very fortunate for the cranes as they crave that kind of food.

The farmers, however, are not as fortunate as the cranes. The resting birds can easily destroy large parts of the newly sown arable. At the same time, the cranes interest and attract large numbers of bird watchers and the public. Keeping the floodplain meadows open and grazed is important to conserve the crane, which is a red-listed species.

To identify solutions to the problem, the “Crane group” was created in 1997. The Federation of Swedish Farmers, the County Administrative Board, the Municipality and ornithologists are represented in the group. Together they came up with an innovative win-win-win-solution. When the cranes start gathering in the area, the ornithologists set out to count them. If they estimate that there will be many cranes at the time for the spring sowing, the cranes are fed with barley from Kristianstads Lagerhusförening on an abandoned field next to the outdoors museum by the floodplain meadows in Pulken.

The cranes can feed in peace and quiet, protected from predators at night by the water, the spring sowing is spared and the bird watchers and the interested public can enjoy the cranes at the outdoors museum. The time of the cranes’ arrival has become a positive event with an estimated 15 000 visitors during the crane period. Local organizations volunteer to count the cranes, guide visitors and sell snacks and the media covers the happening. This initiative contributes to the achievement of several of the SDG’s in the 2030 Agenda.