Habitat networks on and between sites

The two extensive pastures (red) are connected via a corridor (yellow). The now-unfenced communal pathway (green, in the foreground) has become a seamless part of the grazed landscape.
Foresters, horse riders, municipality- and authority representatives consider the practicalities of permitting public rights of way across extensively grazed pastures. This concept is as yet unfamiliar in Germany but has been established for centuries in England, for example. Unexpected encounters with cattle are on the agenda for visitors from now on, but they very rarely lead to tensions when using the right breeds and experienced herds. The experience of being able to travel through an unfenced landscape of lightly grazed moor is attracting very positively reviews, according to first reports.

One of the most important spaces for heath wildlife in the region is the FFH site Kiebitzholmer Moor (FFH DE 1927_301), west of the A 21, much of which is owned by the state forestry enterprise. It has a high nature conservation value because raised bog, wet and sandy heaths and extended areas of wet grassland are all found within it, in close proximity to each other. Consequently the area is home to several species of pan-regional significance.

The bog and heathland areas are the few remaining relicts of the large-scale heath and bog landscape that was predominant at the end of the 19th century. The intensified agricultural usage, afforestation and a much-extended roads infrastructure in the area caused severe fragmentation of these habitats. While many species of wildlife hang on in these isolated pockets, they can no longer move across the wider environment, and so they are cut off from other populations of their species. Thanks to an FFH management plan, establishing ‘green ribbons’ of suitable habitat between these sites will re-link them to maintain their conservation value. This work constitutes a fundamental aim of the „Holsteiner habitat corridors” programme.

Project funds from the E+E undertaking have been used for smaller, but perhaps highly effective relinking measures: a wildlife-friendly path has been established to link two areas of extensively grazed land previously cut off from each other. Beforehand, biological exchange processes were restricted to within each isolated conservation site. Secondly, a previous wildlife corridor has now been integrated into the larger Kiebitzholmer Moor habitat by having fencing removed.

The state forestry operators have been able to build several cattle grids and dismantle longer fences thanks to the project funds. Additionally, they have connected the extensive pasture in the core area of the Kiebitzholmer Moor with the extensively grazed compensation sites next to the A21 (see picture above) via a 500 m green passageway around the edge of the forestry.

In the future, both these large extensive pastures will be grazed by just one large cattle herd, rotating between areas. This promotes exchange processes between the areas and along the habitat corridors, which are also being monitored by scientists to find how wildlife is using them.