To maintain habitat heterogeneity at a biosphere reserve in Germany by grazing with moose
In landscapes heavily affected by modern agriculture and urbanisation, military training grounds represent valuable open landscape biotopes characterised by great biodiversity and covering large areas of land. If no longer used for army purposes, bush encroachment will soon convert such training grounds to forests, meaning that hundreds of species depending on nutrient-poor open landscapes will disappear. Many of these specially adapted plants and animals are endangered and may even be locally or regionally extinct.
Declaring such former military training grounds nature reserves is, therefore, not sufficient to preserve the high biodiversity, but afforable ways and means have to be found for keeping the landscape open.
To adress this issue, the research group OFFENLAND was established with the aim of formulating scientific principles and concepts for the creation, development and maintenance of valuable open landscapes in the cultural landscape of Central Europe, with a particular focus on habitat management on former and current military training bases in the pleistocene lowland areas of Northeast Germany.
In the Biosphere Reserve "Oberlausitzer Heide- und Teichlandschaft" the members of the research network "Moose in Lusatia" have developed a grazing concept with both domestic and wild animals. The project aims to preserve the open habitats of a former tank firing range. On different scales, the vegetation development and the impact of sheep, goats and moose on the woody vegetation and on the micro relief were investigated. The results showed that the long-term conservation of open habitats via combined pasture of domestic and wild animals can only succeed if the impacts of the grazing animals are very high, at least in sub areas. A monitoring of several years is necessary to find out if the dynamics created by these animals provide sufficient niches for a long-term conservation of endangered species linked to open habitat (e.g. Gladiolus imbricatus, Erica tetralix, Drosera intermedia and D. rotundifolia, Lycopodiella inundata, Gallinago gallinago, Caprimulgus europaeus, Lululla arborea, and Saxicola rubetra).
WAZA Conservation Project 06026 is implemented by a network consisting of the Institut für Landespflege, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Biosphärenreservat "Oberlausitzer Heide- und Teichlandschaft", Förderverein für die Natur der Oberlausitzer Heide- und Teichlandschaft e.V, and Naturschutz-Tierpark Görlitz e.V., with financial support from Naturschutz-Tierpark Görlitz e.V., Gemeinschaft Deutscher Zooförderer (science award 2003), Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), Ministry fort the Environment and Country Development of the Free State of Saxony.
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