A. Preparatory actions, elaboration of management plans and/or of action plans

A1 Agro-socio-economic study on the ‘Situation of agriculture in the SPA “Hessische Rhön” including its Natura 2000 sites’

The LIFE project aims at habitats and species of the cultural landscape, which have been created by historical land use. For the implementation of  future measures, it is therefore important to investigate and present the socio-economic situation of agriculture in the “Hessische Rhön”.

The findings are to provide a solid base to achieve practicability and sustainability in the project measures. Further, the results offer information to develop problem-solving strategies based on a solid knowledge of the socio-economic situation.

A2 Current inventory, analysis of habitats and deficits of meadow-breeding birds and shrike species

To receive knowledge on the current breeding stock of the target species and deficits in their main territories, the LIFE team hired external professionals to map the current breeding stock of meadow-breeding birds and shrike species in the Rhön.

Additionally, these professionals inventoried ornithological relevant habitat characteristics and described existing deficits on grasslands. Further, they mapped spring habitats and their surrounding with grazed sites because they are important bird habitats, particularly for Common Snipe.

From the results, necessary measures will be derived in the action A.4 and, more detailed, in action A.5 for the region “Wasserkuppe”.

A3 Supplementary mapping of habitat types for the area of the Natura 2000 site “Vorderrhön” and of the Bird Protection Area “Hessische Rhön”

Presumably, there have been significant changes within the grassland areas, particularly in terms of quality and extent of habitat types in the Rhön. These changes are mainly due to an increased frequency of utilisation on some sites, but also due to a growing abandoning of economically unprofitable areas.
The mapping aims to find out if these observations are valid for the existing areas of habitat types in the Natura 2000 sites.

All open areas serve as linking structures between the many individual sites hosting habitat types, which spread over the whole Natura 2000 site in the Rhön. These areas are important habitats of meadow-breeders and shrike species too, constituting a second focal point of the LIFE+ project. Therefore, not only the habitat types but also further extensively used grasslands will be inventoried, such as wetlands and habitats for meadow breeders.

These new data are of great importance for the implementation of the planned C measures to improve the grassland in terms of the vegetation as well as the habitats of selected open land bird species.

A4 Grassland concept Natura 2000 – specified

The measure will coordinate the aims of Natura 2000 on future management sites in the first year of the project. Therefore, an external office will create a “grassland concept Natura 2000” on two operational levels:

The first level consists of a model for nature conservation for the whole project area and is generally valid for the focal areas of the habitat types and for the focal areas for bird protection. The second level describes a moderated adjustment of the aims and the LIFE team can conduct those measures at the level of the focal areas together with the farmers and further stakeholders. The office will also develop aims and profiles for implementation for each focal area.

For the first time this approach allows the overall and integrated compilation of the aims of NATURA 2000 on grasslands in the Rhön, serving as a basis for their future implementation in the C-measures.

A5 Solution of conflicts in the measurement area “Wasserkuppe”

The partial area “Wasserkuppe” in the Rhön requires a specific concept of nature conservation measures due to the diverse and conflictual demands of uses on the grassland, such as different aerial sports, recreational activities and agriculture. This concept intends to sustainably ensure and optimise the implementation of the Natura 2000 aims in the long run. It will be established in a participative way and will be accompanied by moderation.

The concept will identify conflicts and show options for solutions, it will define the objectives for the necessary individual measures, and it will develop and detail the measures at a level ready for implementation.

A6 Preparatory works for measure C.7 Enlargement of habitats of the Marsh Fritillary

The Marsh Fritillary can only be found in small habitats in the bog “Rotes Moor” and in its close surroundings. The LIFE-project aims to increase and spread the population of this butterfly. This requires the mapping and the description of the structure of the metapopulation (spatial distribution and spatial use) of Euphydryas aurinia in the Hessian Rhön with particular consideration of exchanges with nearby Bavarian populations.

Based on these results, the team will develop the habitat area for a stable metapopulation, including linking structures. Further, they will create a maintenance plan, including the necessary steps for first maintenance and restoring of habitats.

Farmer harvesting hay - picture: Arnulf Müller

Seminatural dry grassland with Pulsatilla vulgaris - picture: LIFE team

Mapping of Marsh Fritillary - picture: LIFE team

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