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Bundesamt für Naturschutz

Common grazing areas in the Thuringian Rhön (Thüringer Rhönhutungen)

Agriculture and forestry
Areas and habitats
Large-Scale Conservation Projects
Dry grassland, large-scale basalt, red and calcareous nutrient-poor grassland, juniper heaths, rock outcrops, stoney limestone fields and calcareous fens in the Vorderrhön area
Federal state
Division I 2.4 Nature Conservation in Agriculture
Funding phase I: 2002 - 2005 (Planning), Funding phase II: 2005 - 2015 (Implementation)
Core area 3,474 ha
In the districts of Wartburgkreis and Schmalkalden-Meiningen, Physiographic unit: Östliche Vorder- oder Kuppenrhön (North-eastern section of the Rhön Biosphere Reserve)
Grant amount
Funding phase I: 600.000 €, Funding phase II: 5.300.000 €

Project description

The objective of this project is to protect, manage, and develop the characteristic habitat types of the Vorderrhön region and to improve ecological networks between them. These habitats include, in particular, xeric grasslands, extensive areas of dry grasslands on basalt, Röt and limestone, 'juniper heaths', rocky commonage grazing areas, arable fields over weathered limestone, and calcareous fens. There are also smaller areas of thermophilic beech, pine, and yew woodlands. The project region contains the most extensive area of colline to submontane nutrient-poor grasslands in Germany with very long drove routes which are still partly intact, and it includes most of the calcareous grasslands of the Vorderrhön region. The individual nutrient-poor grassland sites are ecologically well connected and cover remarkably large areas of approximately 50-300 ha each (e.g. southern slope of the Hohe Geba: > 300 ha).

The extensive, connected, largely unfragmented and structurally heterogeneous habitat complexes host numerous nationally endangered, rare, and characteristic plant and animal species. These include, for example, man orchids (Aceras anthropohorum), musk orchids (Herminium monorchis), black salsify (Scorzonera hispanica), pyramidal bugle (Ajuga pyramidalis), yellow lady's-slipper (Cypripedium calceolus), cross-leaved gentian (Gentiana cruciata) and Venus's-looking-glass (Legousia hybrida). Examples of butterfly fauna include the hermit (Chazara briseis), the clouded apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne), damon blue (Polyommatus damon), dusky large blue (Maculinea nausithous), large blue (Maculinea arion), Meleager's blue (Polyommatus daphnis), turquoise blue (Polyommatus dorylas) and Chapman's blue (Polyommatus thersites).

The entire project area is located within the Rhön Biosphere Reserve. In the framework plan for the Biosphere Reserve the core area and the expansion areas are designated as 'management zones'.

The management strategy aims to optimize and develop an outstanding supra-regional calcareous grassland site network and will include the medium and long-term improvement of the general conditions for shepherding with a view to the long-term management of the calcareous grasslands.

Project executing agencies

Landschaftspflegeverband BR Thüringische Rhön e.V.
Am Pförtchen 15, 98634 Kaltensundheim

Project funding agencies

Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU)/ Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN); Thüringer Ministerium für Landwirtschaft, Forsten, Umwelt und Naturschutz (Thuringian ministry for agriculture, forestry, environment and nature conservation); Landschaftspflegeverband BR Thüringische Rhön e.V. (Landscape management association Thuringian Rhön Biosphere Reserve).
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