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Station 3: A Digression: The Pasture Landscape Project

 

What is the Pasture Landscape Project?

As part of “Natura 2000”, a pasturing concept for the Leinbachtal was drawn up in 1999; since then, the valley has been the site of a pilot project concerning the cultivation of open landscape biotopes through extensive establishment of mixed pastures. Scottish highland cattle graze regularly in the pastures, and this softens up the ground. This counteracts the overgrowing of the landscape.

 

What are the goals of this project?

Aside from the constant tending of the pastures by the Scottish highland cattle, the pasturing concept contains other goals. These include:

  • The protection of species and their biotopes: through the maintenance of open green spaces the habitats of rare animal and plant species will be protected
  • Preservation of bird species diversity: mild transitional spaces between wooded and open landscapes promote biodiversity in bird species
  • Increasing biodiversity: through this pilot project it is hoped that there will be an overall increase in biodiversity in the “Natura 2000” area
  • The preservation of the cultural landscape: the existing cultural landscape and its high touristic value shall be maintained and preserved
  • Promotion of groundwater renewal: the eco-friendly use of the pasturelands promotes the renewal of the groundwater
  • Preservation of open green spaces for roe deer: the pasture landscape provides the roe deer with space for grazing and resting

 

How did this project originate?

Due to increasing withdrawal of agriculture in the Leinbachtal, the original hay meadows lie underneath advancing scrub encroachment. For this reason a concept was proposed to keep the valley open. A grazing project involving Galloway cattle would provide a remedy. The cattle grazed on the meadows regularly and loosened up the ground.

The cultivation of the pasturelands prevented scrub encroachment, and negative effects on the protection of biotopes and species diversity. Moreover the pasturelands in the Leinbachtal are for the most part semi-humid grasslands and wet meadows. From the technical point of view of nature conservation these are of immense importance. For example, acidophilous oatgrass meadows are quite rare.

In 2008 the herder of the Galloway cattle moved his animals out of the valley, leading to a two-year interruption of grazing. As a result of this, land that was cultivated reverted back to a fallow state.

A couple of years later, two professional users from Hochspeyer and Waldleinigen were found who were willing to continue with the grazing. Since then, the flood plains, divided into six sub-sections, have been in constant cultivation, with Scottish highland cattle and Halflinger horses used as grazing animals. 

 

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