The majority of endangered open terrestrial habitats of the European Union's Habitats Directive's (92/43/EEC) Annex I are dependent on extensive agricultural land use. Predominantly, this encompasses management-dependent different dry grasslands (e.g. habitat codes 6210(*), 6240*), lowland hay meadows (6510), species-rich humid meadows (6410, 6440) and mountain pastures (6230*, 6520) as well as naturally small-sized sites like inland salt meadows (1340*) or Calaminarian grasslands (6130), which are at least dependent on sporadic management. These habitats are usually very rich in both animal and plant species and often harbour a high percentage of endangered species. A higher land use intensity on the one hand and predominantly lack of use on less productive sites are the main reasons for the endangerment of these species and habitats.
Recently, concepts for larger complexes with open terrestrial habitats have been developed in Saxony-Anhalt, which may ensure their long-term preservation, for example the extensive grazing projects with mega herbivores in the Oranienbaumer Heide and the „Toten Tälern“. Additionally, precursors to this project initiated goat grazing at different sites in the Lower Saale Valley, which will be continued here.
Endangered open terrestrial habitats as well as habitats of rare plant and animal species are currently often rather small-sized.Many of the sites we find today are only relics of former larger occurrences that remain as islands of small, fragmented areas (e.g. dry grassland fragments within shrub encroachment) - basically the last safe-harbours for many specialized species and endangered habitats.
The majority of these small, fragmented sites lies within Natura 2000 areas. Nevertheless, many of them have lain fallow for several decades, but others have been abandoned more recently for socio-economic reasons. A reason for this is that land-use on these sites is often hampered by specific characteristics like unfavourable terrain, high ground water level, isolation or lack of a necessary first instalment.
However, exactly these small, fragmented sites often represent very species-rich remainders of open habitats and are home to populations of rare plant and animal species. We have to urgently find solutions for these, from a conservation standpoint, highly valuable sites with respect to management and financing. Since species diversity in open terrestrial habitats is aggregated in these small areas, the solution of this problem is essential for the conservation of species diversity in Saxony-Anhalt.
Subproject A: Evaluation of ongoing management measures (goat and mixed pasturing) on small species-rich dry grassland sites at the example of the Lower Saale Valley and knowledge transfer to state-wide practice
Subproject B: Restauration and management of species-rich open habitats at management-requiring small fragmented sites in three focus regions
Main goals of this project are the restauration and management of species-rich open habitats in management-requiring small fragmented areas in three focus regions (Districts Börde, Harz and Wittenberg). In cooperation with local key-players (governmental institutions like the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Energy, the State Office for Environmental Protection, local Conservation Authorities and local floristic experts) we will establish and evaluate a pool of valuable species-rich small, fragmented areas (predominantly with red listed species, important habitat types and species of local responsibility) based on existing data (habitat type register, management plans) and their expertise. This pool will serve as a basis for the new program within the framework of the "Gemeinschaftsaufgabe Agrarstruktur & Küstenschutz" (GAK) that initiates a financial instrumentation for continuous management of these habitats to promote their conservation status and ultimately rescue and restore their biodiversity.
Moreover, we will initiate and realise specific management projects on chosen sites in the model regions.
Projekt management: Prof. Dr. Sabine Tischew
Projekt researchers: Dr. Daniel Elias, Dr. Alrun Siebenkäs, Thomas Engst, M.Sc., Vera Senße, M.Sc.
Funded by: ELER- Sachsen Anhalt (Funding period: 20.02.2017-30.09.2020).