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LIFE-Project 'Grindenscharzwald' (Grindenschwarzwald)
Date du début: 1 janv. 2001, Date de fin: 31 déc. 2005 PROJET  TERMINÉ 

Background Just a stone's throw from the urban sprawl in the plain along the upper Rhine, the Grindenschwarzwald in the northern Black Forest is one of the strongholds of the Natura 2000 Network in the region. At altitudes of 900 to over 1,100 metres it comprises a mosaic of woods, bogs and species-rich mountain heaths. Remarkably, this area is also one of the few remaining strongholds for mountain birds in Germany outside of the Alps, hosting capercaillies (Tetrao urogallus) three-toed woodpeckers (Piciodes tridactylus) and pygmy owls (Glaucidium passerinum). But the Grindenschwarzwald is also an important recreational region that attracts up to 3,000 tourists per day. Bird species that are sensitive to disturbance bear the brunt of this visitor pressure and, prior to the launch of the project, their populations were decreasing The abandonment of ancient land uses is also a major conservation problem. Paradoxically, many plant and animal species depend on the maintenance of traditional land uses, such as grazing and pasturing on sub-mountain grasslands. Unfortunately, the characteristic 'Grinden' (local mountain heaths created through grazing and mowing) have been considerably reduced in size since the beginning of the 20th century. As a result, many of its typical plant, insect and bird species were on the verge of local extinction. By the end of the 20th century there was however a general awareness that the more these areas lose their value for nature conservation, the more the region loses its tourist potential. Headed by the Bezirksstelle für Naturschutz und Landschaftspflege in Karlsruhe (Now the department for nature conservation of the regional authority 'Regierungspräsidium Karlsruhe') –10 local partners, public and private, agreed to undertake a joint LIFE initiative for an integrated approach towards preserving the Grindenschwarzwald's nature and landscape value. Objectives Faced with two main threats – the discontinuation or transformation of land-use of the heaths and woodlands; and increased pressure from tourism – the projects objectives were twofold: 1. The conservation, optimisation and linkage of the different habitat types of the Grindenschwarzwald region. 2. The establishment of good cooperation between different sectors – nature conservation, forestry, agriculture and tourism. The objectives would be met through the improvement of the conservation status of mountain heaths and their extension, an increase of the conservation status of high moors through visitor guidance measures, the development of habitats for grouse, and intensive public relations work in order to make the general public more aware of the need for nature conservation in the area. Results The project team concentrated its efforts on habitat conservation and visitor guidance measures. Habitat conservation focused chiefly on mountain heaths and natural woodland areas. Around 110 hectares of mountain heaths were identified for restoration by scrub clearance and just under 200 hectares of forest area were optimised for grouse and other woodland birds, through selective tree cutting and opening-up of the canopy. These habitat conservation measures were accompanied by intensive public relations work and direct visitor management actions. The results showed that the project’s objectives were reached and even surpassed. The project achieved an increased conservation status of peat bogs through re-humidification and visitor guidance measures, an enlargement and an improvement of the conservation status of degenerated heaths and Nardus grasslands through the removal of shrubs and through the re-instatement of a grazing management. The project’s communication efforts between partners and other stakeholders were particularly noteworthy. As a result of all these efforts, the LIFE project has become extremely well-known in the region with both visitors and local people alike supporting its aims and activities. For example, over 200 events were hosted in order to provide information on the project and the habitats concerned. Fifteen information points, two info-trails, many new brochures, a book and even a short film were produced. A ranger service was also established to advise visitors on appropriate conduct and ensure that the conservation regulations were complied with. Three information trails were created and nine information boards have been erected by the project. The trails are part of the visitor guidance and are proving both attractive and informative for adults and children alike. A remarkable innovation of the project was the establishment of the first-ever large-scale "storm trail" in Europe, a visitor trail crossing through an forest area devastated by a violent windstorm a few years ago, where visitors can experience at first hand the natural forest regeneration in a particularly scenic setting. This trail raised is a success and was extensively reported on in the German press. Detailed project actions included: • Elaboration of a detailed site management plan – this plan was the basis for the project activities and was updated throughout the project period. The plan (available on the project website) was provided in an electronic version. It includes an interactive map that allows users to view data on topographical or aerial maps on planning, measures implemented, habitat types, tourist data etc. • Actions concerning the preparation of recurring grazing on mountain heath biotopes were originally planned to be carried out over 23 ha. In the end, the team succeeded in increasing this area to over 80 ha. The beneficiary gave emphasis to the establishment of corridors between biotopes – thereby creating a functional habitat connectivity. • The extension and linking of mountain heath biotopes was achieved over 34 ha, which was over 50% more than foreseen. Finally, the project team also succeeded in establishing good cooperation between nature conservation, forestry, agriculture and tourism in the region. Ideas to improve foreseen actions, or simply ways of doing things better, were developed and then disseminated within the large group of people involved in this project.


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