An established alternative to standard seed mixtures is the use of seeds from local origin propagated in the same region or harvested directly in species-rich grasslands nearby. Autochthonous species are well-adapted to local site conditions, thus higher establishment rates can be expected. Using near-natural restoration methods, ambitious restoration goals can be achieved and the genetic integrity of the region can be preserved. In addition, rectiﬁcation work and / or management of the established grasslands and associated costs are reduced considerably.
After the amendment of the German federal law on nature protection in 2010, the use of alien species and subspecies outside settlements (except agriculture and forestry) requires the approval of the authorities (§40 (4)). During a transitional period until March 2020, authorities, planners and contractors must develop strategies to implement this new legal framework.
In May 2014, the "Forschungsgesellschaft Landschaftsentwicklung Landschaftsbau" published recommendations for restoration with seed material from local origin (FLL 2014). These regulations are aiming to help seed producers, public authorities, planner, and contractors to select appropriate restoration measures and to prepare tenders. For re-vegetation after landscape constructions, specified regional seed mixtures were defined as a minimum quality standard. On the other hand, for compensation measures and for improvements or restoration of nature protection sites, the use of autochthonous seed material, harvested or propagated in the same geographical region is mandatory.
The donor site register Saxony-Anhalt facilitates the localization of ecological and economical suitable donor sites for directly harvested seed and plant material in Saxony-Anhalt. Therefore, the use of seed material of local origin in compensation and restoration measures will be promoted. In addition, the transnational information system of nature-oriented restoration measures provides comprehensive information for planning and implementation.
Arguments against the implementation of alternative restoration methods include: uncertainties, lack of experience and knowledge, high costs, complex success control and the general unavailability of seed and plant material from local origin.
The aim of the information system INB is to promote nature-oriented restoration measures and impart knowledge. The INB is part of the internet website www.spenderﬂaechenkataster.de. It presents scientiﬁc knowledge and practical experiences.
The INB is designed as a transnational information system being extended and updated at regular intervals. Great emphasis is placed on user-friendliness allowing quick searches and ensuring reliable data. The internet platform presents an overview of different near-natural restoration methods and gives advice for their planning and implementation, as well as for costs and the legal framework. Further information is given by a comprehensive list of links to institutions and practitioners as well as an up-to-date bibliography.
Disseminating practical knowledge, e.g. via demonstration workshops for public authorities, planner, and contractors, will reduce reservations against near-natural restoration measures, avoiding mistakes in planning and implementation, thus enhancing restoration success in the future.
The selection of donor sites was based on ecological and economical aspects. Cost-effectiveness was evaluated, e.g. by determination of shrub encroachment, inclination, relief, and accessibility. Only sites that are potentially suitable for seed harvest were included in the web-based database. All sites in the database are protected by nature conservation law and most of the sites are situated in Natura2000 and/or nature protection areas. The listing of an area as a donor site in the database does not imply permission for seed collection or mowing. Any kind of harvesting requires a formal authorization by the responsible nature conservation authority and the land user. Most probably, any loss in harvest must be compensated.
Between 2006 and 2014, 406 potential donor sites were integrated in the database. In the next years, a consecutively reassessment of these sites is necessary because management deficits can lead to an encroachment of grasses and woody species and therefore to a steady decline of target species. In 2014, for example, 50 sites that were included in the database in 2006 were revaluated, showing that nine sites did not fulfill the requirements for donor sites any more. Unsuitable sites are shifted to a database for prospective restoration sites. The reassessment of the sites listed in the database as well as the new inclusion of areas continues. In the past project period, 102 sites have already been revaluated from which 61 optimal donor sites, which are ideally suited for greening measures in terms of their species composition, have been determined. New sites that are potentially suitable donor sites can henceforth be reported online, e.g. by interested farmers.
The donor site database has multiple research functions. Donor sites can be selected from a map or a list, or via a search module. Available ecological and economic data are shown in fact sheets. If interested stakeholders want to see the exact geographical position of the donor sites, they have to register as a user.
Demonstration workshops are important instruments for knowledge transfer into practice, discussion and networking. We want to break down prejudices against the use of autochthonous seed and plant material in restoration and re-vegetation. Based on specific examples, participants can discuss typical problems and questions and will be presented with possible solutions. Each year, the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences organizes workshops and field trips on different topics in restoration. More information see: www.spenderflaechenkataster.de or www.offenlandinfo.de.
The use of autochthonous seeds in restoration and re-vegetation projects will become more and more important due to the new legal regulations. Necessary knowledge can be found in the information system of nature-oriented restoration measures (INB), where new results in research and practice are continuously integrated.
Moreover, there is increasing need for advice to support the implementation of near-natural restoration measures. With regard to the importance and actuality of nature-oriented restoration measures, appropriate structures supporting practitioners in choosing the most suitable near-natural restoration method have to be created. Therefore, 102 sites from the donor site database have been revaluated and 61 sites have been identified as optimal donor sites. These sites should cover all geographical regions in Saxony-Anhalt and all habitat types. They will be reassessed on a regular basis (every 2-3 years) and prearrangements with land users and nature conservation authorities will be made. It is mandatory to inform land users and owners not only of the ecological but also of the economic value of their species-rich grasslands to enhance their cooperation to keep these valuable sites in good conservation state. Seed harvest on donor sites might be a possible source of income for farmers.
In order to simplify the procedure for obtaining seed material, we are planning to implement several tests with a meadow-seed harvester (“eBeetle 2.0”). The device allows a gentle and efficient brushing of the seeds from the plants of a donor area as well as the harvesting of sites that are difficult of access for large-scale equipment. Beside the applicability test at different sites we want to examine the quality of the threshing material obtained in this way. A higher purity enhances the storage life of the material. In addition, to develop recommendations for the storage of meadow threshing, we investigate the germination capacity of stored meadow threshing material under different storage conditions and periods. Therefore, we intend to continue with germination tests which have already been started in the last project period. A good storability of the seed material allows land users more flexibility in the production and marketing of regional seeds.
Management: Prof. Dr. Sabine Tischew
Researchers: M. Sc. Jenny Förster, B. Sc. Annemarie Guthke
Period: 10/2020 to 05/2022 (project 407.1.10-60128/630120000010)
Funded by: European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)
Project partners: Matthias Stolle (saale-saaten, Halle), Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Gartenbau Sachsen-Anhalt,
Landesforstbetrieb Sachsen-Anhalt, Landesstraßenbaubehörde Sachsen-Anhalt,
Stiftung Umwelt, Natur- und Klimaschutz Sachsen-Anhalt, Landgesellschaft Sachsen-Anhalt mbH