The project focuses on protecting the dry slopes of the Altmühltal valley. In the core area, the dominant habitat types are calcareous nutrient-poor grassland, deciduous woodlands, meadows and croplands.
The nutrient-poor, dry and rocky grasslands in the Altmühltal valley and surrounding areas are among the best-developed and largest-scale examples of the above-named habitat types in Germany’s central uplands. The area is unique in terms of the great diversity in and numbers of species in its nutrient-poor grasslands and predominantly thermophile, near-natural woodlands (calcareous beech forests and ravine forests), and by its biogeographic location in Germany. The core area is characterised by a wide range of threatened plant and animal species. Some 241 species listed in Germany’s Red Lists have been identified so far. These include 11 species threatened with extinction (such as the hoopoe, the notch-eared bat, the great horseshoe bat, the lesser horseshoe bat, the Italian locust) and 56 endangered species. The core area houses many of Germany’s largest populations of these species, including golden feather grass, the cheddar pink, Cistaceae, burnt orchid, Gentiana cruciata, the red-winged grasshopper, the great banded greyling, the hermit and apollo butterflies, and Arnolds Habichtskraut (Hieracium wiesbaurianum ssp. Arnoldianum) which is endemic to the Altmühltal valley.
The project’s main aim is to maintain and develop the current high species and structural diversity in the area, and to integrate dry sites of national importance into a superordinate habitats network. By promoting an economically viable nomadic sheep flock as a traditional form of use, sufficient grazing is secured and management is kept to the necessary minimum. Another aim is to devise approaches to foster the project aims as part of nature-compatible, sustainable regional development measures – particularly as regards establishing nature conservation-compatible and nature-friendly recreational use.