Near-Natural Landscapes Through Extensive Farming Practices
Wet Meadows in Plottendorf
Wet meadows are located in floodplains on fresh to moist or temporarily flooded areas. Extensive (gentle) management supports the development of biodiverse valley meadows, which are one of the most versatile habitats for birds and insects.
The wet meadows in Plottendorf are part of the Pleiße river floodplain and are located to the west of the Gerstenbach stream, between the villages of Treben and Plottendorf. The approximately 11 hectares include grazing areas with ponds, thickets and wet meadows. The meadows are part of the conservation area called ‘Haselbacher Teiche und Pleißeau’ and are also partly located within the special protection area (SPA), ‘Nördliches Altenburger Land’. Additionally, the wet meadows border on the neighbouring nature reserve, ‘Haselbacher Teiche’.
Comparison of Intensive and
Extensive Land Use
The floodplains of the Pleiße and Gerstenbach rivers are valuable habitats for insects and amphibians. However, the biodiversity has decreased sharply due to the intensive use of fertilisers and meadow management with very frequent mowing.
Together with our partners, the Nature Research Society of Altenburg (NfGA e.V.), we pursue the goal of applying extensive farming practices to the wet meadows as well as year-round grazing and/or hay production. The extensification will lead to the settlement of typical animal and plant species, shrubs and the development of near-natural habitats. Existing structures will be enhanced, and new ones may arise in order to promote the priority species in this area (dusky large blue, Maculinea nausithous, and its fodder plant, the great burnet, as well as the crested newt, Triturus cristatus). In particular, the establishment of the great burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis) as a forage crop species of dusky large blue is anticipated to create more stepping habitats and to support further spread.
Historical and ecological forms of land use have been shown to be successful in nature conservation projects. The extensive grazing of sheep is a way of structurally improving land use intensity, generating a manifold mosaic of different meadow areas. This variability (different grass heights, interruptions, etc.) creates ecological niches and thereby promotes biodiversity.
Leine sheep are an old, robust and regional sheep type in the German federal states of Thuringia and Lower Saxony, and they are now grazing on the wet meadows in Plottendorf. The breed is listed on the ‘red list’ of farm animals
by the German Society for the Preservation of Rare Breeds e. V. (GEH) and is considered extremely endangered. Therefore, the 'original type' was selected as ‘Vulnerable Farm Animal of the Year 2013’.
Great Burnet with Dusky Large Blue
The wet meadows project in Plottendorf is supported by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) program ‘Development of nature and landscape’. The Upper Nature Conservation Authority in Thuringia provides funding for the project.