German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Management by severe disturbance

Concept derivation:

schematic (Source: U. Riecken)

This concept can be derived from natural stochastic disturbances. The goal is to substitute these by means of management measures.

Management activities
Natural disturbanceManagement
Forest firesManagement by fire
Floods/ ice thrusting on rivers and coastsRemoval of dikes / deregulation of watercourses / ponding where appropriate
Rock fall, earth slide
Massive mechanical disturbances (heavy machinery, "Pflegepanzer")
Effects of insect calamitiesAllowing calamities to happen

Guiding model:

Natural dynamic processes provide the guiding model for these approaches.


Implementation takes place through temporarily and spatially targeted, limited, massive anthropogenic disturbances alternating with variously long phases of natural succession. In parallel, it is sought to reactivate natural dynamic processes and to integrate these within conservation concepts.


Kahlbrand (Source: H. Page)

Project areas need sufficient size in order that they can comprise over the long term all phases of succession and of the pioneer habitats to be created. Adequate buffer zones separating the areas from settlements and utilized areas are also necessary.

Effect hoped for:

The effect hoped for is the emergence of a landscape consisting of open and, depending upon the concrete objective, variously advanced successional stages. In this landscape, both human-induced and natural dynamic processes are to be able to run their course. It must be accepted that both the development processes and the outcomes cannot be predicted precisely.


While costs are considerable in the initial phase, over the medium term under ideal circumstances substantial savings are provided compared to traditional nature conservation approaches.

Last Change: 02/01/2006