Reed (Phragmites communis), hardy grass with sharp-edged leaves, grows to about 4 m high in water up to 2 m deep. The young shoots are edible. Reed covers approximately 180 km2 (in Austria approximately100 km2 of Lake Neusiedl. Only the reed which grows in the national parks and the nature reserves surrounding bird nesting grounds is protected. As the production of stuccowork mats has dramatically decreased in Austria (virtually restricted to Purbach, Rust), only 10-15 % of the reed is harvested in the winter. From an ecological perspective, increased usage of reed as a renewable natural resource would be desirable. Today only a few reed farmers use reed (cut to a length of 1.6 m) as roofing material.
The reed belt on the both the western and eastern side of the lake as well as the reed islands form the habitat for deer, wild boar, foxes, musk rats and, in some cases, otters, and provide water foul and birds of the wetlands with ample nesting grounds (purple, silver and grey herons, the European spoonbill and the greylag goose). "Schluichten", the Austrian word for canals cut into the reed belt, allow for access from the lakeshore to the open water; however, most of these canals have been silted up. Reactivating these canals could lead to an improvement in the flow of water between the lake and the spawning areas.
Literature: J. Werner, Fischerei- und Schilfwirtschaft am Neusiedler See, 1992.
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