LIFE Forests-waterworlds

Natural Habitat forest meadow

Hay meadows are part of our cultural landscape. They are the result of the work of man. Without human activity, most grassland would be covered by forests.

Meadows are characterized by grass species and are interspersed with herbs in different degrees. They are mowed periodically and the hay is used as feed for livestock or as litter in the stable.

Meadow is not like meadow!

Meadows, as we know them today, are often very poor in plant and animal species. They are heavily fertilized and are mowed several times a year. There are only a few species who tolerate these conditions like dandelion, clover or rye-grass.

By contrast, little-used, nutrient poor and low fertilized meadows with a species-rich flora and fauna have become very rare and are  threatened. These colourful and floriferous meadows are habitats for several animal species, particularly insects like butterflies, locusts, bees and beetles.

 What special grassland habitats are present in our region?

False oat-grass meadows, purple moor-grass meadows and mat grass grasslands are typical semi-natural grassland habitats of our region. These habitats are named for their typical plant species. False oat-grass is a tall species of grass, which is common on lowland hay meadows with a middle nutrient level, while matgrass only occurs on low fertilized short grasslands. Purple moor-grass is a specialist of low nutrient and temporary or constant wet soil conditions. These grass species are accompanied by herbs like arnica, devil's-bit scabious, greater yellow rattle, forest lousewort, common milkwort or cross-leaved heath

Improving species-rich meadows in the Ville-forests

Lichtung im WaldYou can find small forest meadows in the Ville-forests with populations of rare grassland species which have disappeared from the intensively used agricultural landscape of the Rhine valley. Small patches of threatened semi-natural grassland habitats like lowland hay meadows, heaths, purple moor-grass meadows and matgrass grasslands have been preserved. They were used for hunting and were not intensively fertilized or mowed. In this LIFE+ project, such species-rich grasslands habitats will be restored. We will establish typical grassland species by transferring hay from a species-rich donor meadow. Furthermore, we will sow regional seeds. Arnica, devil's-bit scabious and other plants grown up from seeds in the nursery of the Biological Station Bonn will be planted out. So we are improving the conservation status of the forest meadows. In the near future, they will be favourable habitats for insects and a rich feeding ground for birds and bats in the surrounding forests.

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