Heath corridores and forest

While they are not wooded, the heath slopes at the »Faule Trave« (red) are still owned by the state forestry and contain important target species of heathland
Poecilus lepidus

The raised heath slope at Negernbötel is a both a central donor- and target-site for the network of habitat corridors. It depends on grazing animals to maintain its open landscape and at the moment, wild mammals do the work of conserving its important habitat qualities.

On both the slope and the adjacent low moor, the objective is to secure sustainable land usage that encourages the target wildlife communities. Rare species have been identified on the steep, south-facing land sloping to the source of the „Faule Trave“, One example is the pigmy footman (Eilema pygmaeloa), a moth that was listed as extinct until its rediscovery in Schleswig-Holstein.  

Increasing shrub encroachment endangers the suitability of those slopes as habitats of oligotrophic grassland- and heathland living communities. It is extremely important that people do not scare sensitive wildlife by straying from official paths through the area. The animals have to be able to graze undisturbed so that the desired plants that depend on their presence can populate the site. Indeed, once roe deer and red deer feel comfortable there, it may reduce their browsing damage in the adjacent forest.

The plantation forests around the Kiebitzholm green bridge contain many clearings and islands of open ground, established for different reasons (i.e. historical sites, old gravel workings or adventure areas for the local kindergarten). These clearings and the surrounding inner forest edges are often species-rich habitats (as relicts of a former characteristic heath landscape), and they are vital stepping stones if the remaining oligotrophic grasslands and heathlands are ever to be re-linked with each another (over the green bridge!).

The oligotrophic grasslands were not sufficiently well connected at the start of the project because slim stands of coniferous forests often formed barriers between the isolated heaths. These barriers were removed, however, without greatly impairing the forest function as a whole.
The area needed for a successful open land connection and the (negative, as well as positive) impact of such clearings on the forest are as yet unknown. Intensive scientific study should establish the facts.

It is safe to assume, however, that the isolated open areas within the plantation forest are relicts of a former large-scale open landscape and they have a high significance for the biodiversity of the region. They are not only stepping stones, but for many species (for instance wart-biters) they are also donor biotopes. The sites are popular recreational areas and at the same time they are also much used for environmental education.