Wässermatten


Description

The Wässermatten in the Langete, Oenz and Rot river valleys of Oberaargau are the last remaining examples of a cultural practice of cooperative meadow irrigation and fertilisation that was once widespread in the Swiss Central Plateau. The practice can be traced back to the 9th century and was promoted in the 13th century by the Cistercian monks of the St. Urban monastery as part of a soil enrichment campaign. Extensive networks of canals and ditches, dams and central irrigation channels with "Brütschen" (floodgates), side channels with "Ablissen" (water outlets), "Wuhren" (weirs) and small dams made of planks were constructed. The Wässermatten were irrigated several times a year and simultaneously fertilised by manure contained in the water. The main ditches were jointly maintained by members of the Wässermatten cooperatives, while the side ditches were looked after by private individuals. Today, there are some 80 hectares of Wässermatten in the Oberaargau region of the canton of Berne, 15 hectares in the Zofingen-Wiggertal region of Aargau, and a further 20 hectares in the Rottal area of the canton of Lucerne. In all other parts of Switzerland, they have either disappeared completely or are limited to a few small areas. In 1983, the Wässermatten were included in the Federal Inventory of Landscapes and Natural Monuments of National Importance.

Image gallery

  • A farmer irrigating his meadows © Markus Gabarell, 2008
  • A rock sill in the Rot in the spring © Werner Stirnimann, 2006
  • An old distribution structure on the Rot © Werner Stirnimann, 2009
  • The Altbüron meadows © Werner Stirnimann, 2009
  • Stettlermatte Lotzwil © Margrit Kohler, 2003
  • A Wässermatte in the winter © Valentin Binggeli, Bleienbach
  • A farmer irrigating his meadows © Markus Gabarell, 2008
  • A rock sill in the Rot in the spring © Werner Stirnimann, 2006
  • An old distribution structure on the Rot © Werner Stirnimann, 2009
  • The Altbüron meadows © Werner Stirnimann, 2009
  • Stettlermatte Lotzwil © Margrit Kohler, 2003
  • A Wässermatte in the winter © Valentin Binggeli, Bleienbach

Video

Films of the Rottal Wässermatten at Melchnau BE and Altbüron LU © Werner Stirnimann, Langenthal, 2007

References and documentation

Publications
  • Walter Bieri: Die Wässermatten von Langenthal. In: Mitteilungen der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft Bern 4/6, Bern, 1949

  • Walter Bieri: Wässermatten-Reminiszenzen. In: Jahrbuch des Oberaargaus 18. Bern, 1975, p. 138-152

  • Valentin Binggeli: Kulturlandschaftswandel am Beispiel der Oberaargauer Wässermatten. Zerfall und Wiederaufbaumöglichkeiten in einem subalpinen Bewässerungssystem. In: Jahrbuch des Oberaargaus 32. Bern, 1989, p. 39-74

  • Valentin Binggeli, Markus Ischi: Wässermattenschutz. Erhaltungs- und Wiederherstellungsarbeiten 1985-1993. In: Jahrbuch des Oberaargaus 36. Bern, 1993, p. 289-306

  • Cristina Boschi, René Bertiller, Thomas Coch: Die kleinen Fliessgewässer. Bedeutung - Gefährdung - Aufwertung. Zürich, 2003

  • Christian Leibundgut: Die Wässermatten des Oberaargaus. In: Jahrbuch Oberaargau 13. Bern, 1970, p. 163-186

  • Christian Leibundgut: Zum Wasserhaushalt des Oberaargaus und zur hydrologischen Bedeutung des landwirtschaftlichen Wiesenbewässerungssystems im Langetental (Beiträge zur Geologie der Schweiz, Hydrologie 23). Bern, 1976

  • Christian Leibundgut: Erhaltung und Wiederherstellung der Wässermatten. Kulturlandschaft im Langetental. In: Jahrbuch des Oberaargaus 30. Bern, 1987, p. 15-52

Documentation
  • Wässermatten

    Ausführliche Beschreibung Last modification: 28.05.2012
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