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The Green Belt as a European Ecological Network strengths and gaps

The Green Belt as a European Ecological Network strengths and gaps

Schlumprecht, H., Laube,

Schlumprecht, H., Laube, J. MONITORING BIODIVERSITY OF THE THURINGIAN GREEN BELT of 4 for grazing tolerance is defined as species adapted to regular (1-2 times a year), extensive grazing [13]. The value of 3 for mowing is defined as sensitive to mowing – species able to support mowing only at autumn. The majority of rare species recorded at the monitoring sites is adapted to grazing rather than to mowing (see Table 5). A slight cover with shrubs and trees (coverage up to level 4, up to 40 % cover) does not affect the amount of threatened species (see Figure 6). Table 5: Mowing and grazing tolerance of threatened plant species Mowing tolerance Grazing tolerance Mean 3.3 4.1 Minimum 2 2 Maximum 5 8 Species number 20 20 3.2 Threatened animal species For grasshoppers the highest number of species (total number and number of rare species) was found at grazed areas, especially monitoring site ID 15. We also found high numbers at one unused semi-dry grassland (ID 2) with strong shrub encroachment. For butterflies the numbers of species was lowest at unused areas (ID 9 and ID 30), the highest species richness was found at a grazed area (ID 15). This monitoring site also showed the highest number of rare species. Regarding birds, the highest species numbers was also found at the grazed area ID 15 (total species number as well as number of rare species). The area with the lowest species number was found at unused areas (ID 2 and ID 9). Percent biotopes [%] 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Monitoring sites with or without plants of the Red List Thuringia (N= 187 sub-areas = 100 %) 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Degree of canopy / shrub cover 42 Degree of canopy cover with / without threatened species / Degree of shrub cover with / without threatened species Figure 6: Proportions of biotope areas with rare species vs. shrub or canopy cover /

Schlumprecht, H., Laube, J. MONITORING BIODIVERSITY OF THE THURINGIAN GREEN BELT 3.3 Shrub cover and threatened species Missing land use does not lead to loss of rare plant or animal species in the short run. With on-going succession to dense shrub stands and young forests the populations of rare species (i.e. plants of the Red List, or protected by law) will decline and get lost. The 39 occurrences of rare plant species we found at unused sites (see table 4) will get lost in the long run if no land use or land management will be established. The same is true for rare animal species, where grazed areas (like ID15) showed the highest numbers of threatened species as well as highest total species numbers. Regarding plant and animal species, grazed areas show the highest species numbers, and the amount of rare species is also very high. Unused areas showed low to medium species numbers (and only very seldom unused areas reached high numbers), and rare species were found less frequent. We therefore recommend extensive grazing as best land use type, producing a high species richness and supporting many rare plant and animal species. A low shrub or canopy cover (about up to 30-40 %) seems not to harm the occurrence of most threatened plants or animals. Missing land use and increasing shrub and canopy cover above this extent decreases the conservational value in the long term. Our recommendation is to enable grazing (or mowing), and to tolerate a low shrub cover level at the Thuringian Green Belt. 4. CONCLUSION The conservation of large areas of highly valuable biotopes is a big challenge. In the case of the property of the Foundation for Nature Conservation Thuringia at the Green Belt the major difficulty is to substitute the former military use of large areas for low-cost land use forms and at the same time conserving the valuable biotopes and habitats. Our results show that an overall of more than 50 % of the monitored area is covered by biotope types of high conservation value. Out of these valuable biotopes, only 7 % are critically endangered by abandonment and shrub encroachment, albeit increased shrub cover to a less severe extent is among the most frequent threats within the monitoring sites. Regarding plant species inventory, most of the biotopes (76 %) were considered as of exceptional high or good species richness. The zoological monitoring also showed high numbers of rare bird, butterfly and grasshopper species. The surveyors recommended to maintain the current land use (extensively mowing or grazing) for a majority of sites. In total, large parts of the monitored areas are in good conditions. Extensive grazing is favourable for threatened plant species as well as for bird, butterfly and grasshopper species. This land use type should be promoted or newly established wherever feasible. Shrub and tree covers up to about 30 % seem not to cause species or biotope loss, hence could be tolerated to a certain extent. REFERENCES [1] Schlumprecht, H., Ludwig, F., Geidezis, L., Frobel, K. 2002. E+E Vorhaben Biotoptypenkartierung Grünes Band Deutschland. Unveröff. Abschlussbericht, im Auftrag des Projektbüro Grünes Band beim BUND/BN, Nürnberg. [2] TLUG – Thüringer Landesamt für Umwelt und Geologie. 2001. Kartieranleitung zur Offenland-Biotopkartierung im Freistaat Thüringen. Jena, 183 S. 43

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