German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Semi-open pasture landscapes

schematic (Source: U. Riecken)

Concept derivation:

The 'semi-open pasture landscape' concept is derived from certain traditional management forms (forest pasture, common grazing forests), as well as from currently debated propositions on the structure of primary forests as influenced by large herbivores.

Guiding model:

This approach is modelled mainly on traditional habitat management approaches and on extensive forms of land husbandry.


In contrast to the traditional forms of common grazing, this concept is implemented by means of enclosing large areas and involves less intensive management of the animals. Infrastructure is limited to a minimum.

Grazing animals:

Herds of suitable farm animals are turned out to pasture. Ideally they are kept in the enclosure throughout the whole year in a 'semi-wild' form.


Areas must be large enough to provide sufficient fodder over the long term for (possibly growing) populations. It is also important to combine a range of different sites in order to do justice to the seasonal changes in fodder availability of the various habitats, thus ensuring sufficient nutrition for the animals throughout the whole year.


This approach leads to a landscape consisting mainly of open (and quite possibly relatively intensively grazed) areas and, on the other hand, a range of different successional stages including (natural) climax forest communities. It is accepted that development processes can neither be controlled exactly nor their outcomes predicted precisely.


While in the initial phase costs are considerable, over the medium term there will ideally be substantial savings compared to traditional management approaches. Profitability in business management terms appears possible if areas are large enough (from about 150 hectares upwards) and resources provided by conservation management agreements are tapped.

Exemplary projects:

This concept was implemented in an exemplary manner by the "Höltigbaum" semi-open pasture landscape a former testing and development project supported by the BfN.

Further example

"Schäferhaus pasture landscape"

Last Change: 23/07/2019