The KaMaRa - Project on the Swabian Alb


The following text is based on: "Material and field guide on land-use history, management, restoration and recreation of calcereous grasslands on the Swabian Alb" by Peter Poschlod and Stefanie Kahmen.

The text is a summary for part II of the Workshop on low input managed grasslands on poor/dry, sandy, calcereous soil during a Climb Project (Changing Land-Use and its impact on Biodiversity) in 2000

The "KaMaRa" (KalkMagerRasen) -project

1. Theoretical background

As a consequence of the serious changes in land use practices since the last 150 years most of the low intensity grassland ecosystems are declined in central Europe. Three different trends forced this development:

1 . lf economically possible land use was intensified to get higher yields with the result oftransformation of semi-natural grasslands to nutrient-rich, eutrophic grasslands.

2. Many areas were abandoned because agricultural land use was unprofitable so that succession took place until reestablishment of "natural" forests. However, many areas were also afforested with conifers (spruce, pine - Pinus sylvestris).

3. Land use orientated on international markets, especially of the European Union, and not on local demands and traditions. The production of domestic livestock-products either concentrated on regions with higher productivity or got independent from local grassland management due to the import of fodder.

The dramatic decline of these grasslands with high nature Conservation value in the last decades requires a considerable effort to protect the remaining sites. Since the costs for the management of this nutrient poor grasslands are enormous and without any agricultural use, the need is obvious to develop management systems on a regional scale with respect to local farming structures.

Therefore, in 1991 the project "KaMaRa" was started to study management methods for a successful maintenance and protection of extensively used grasslands and to develop guidelines for the practice of nature conservation. The project was supported by the Baden Württemberg Ministry of Environment. The municipality Münsingen on the Swabian Alb was chosen as a model region for this project.

In the Swabian Alb semi-natural calcareous and other nutrient poor grasslands with their specific floristic and faunistic spectra are still occurring to a large extent (between 15.000 to 25.000 ha) compared to other regions in central Europe. In the region of Münsingen there are approximately 507 hectare of remaining calcareous grasslands which are still connected by grazing trails (Beinlich 1997). This region has the long Tradition of sheep grazing and transhumant herding and still active shepherds. For this reasons, it was chosen as the model region of the KaMaRa project.

The aim of the project was to combine biological, land use history and economic data for a comprehensive assessment of the situation and to derive management advises. Five different management strategies were outlined at the beginning:

1. Promotion of herding of sheep

2. Promotion of agricultural practices for grasslands

3. Management for preserving the remaining grasslands at the status quo

4. Preservation of the regional species pool

5. Succession.


2. From theory to practice

The two first targets were mainly pursued since this region still obtain a lot of calcareous grasslands and active sheep farms.

First, it could be shown that the practice of transhumant herding is not feasible in future as extent grazing trails and grazing sites apart from the Swabian Alb are missing. Therefore, stationary shepherding was determined as a useful management strategy for this model region. This means grazing during summer and feeding the sheep during winter in stables.

In the neighbourhood of the place there were defined three sectors of calcareous grasslands for grazing by sheep. Each sector was characterised by a different stage of succession and needs a specific effort for cutting of shrubs and trees. The calcareous grasslands should predominantly be grazed by shepherding, but some sites with grazing in enclosures were determined. Possible trails for connecting the sectors by shepherding are demonstrated. In the surrounding of the three grazing sectors, five sectors of calcareous and other nutrient poor grasslands were chosen for the use as meadows. The hay is needed to feed sheep in winter.

This land-use concept includes 286 ha grasslands which is 14% of the area of the model region. 157 ha of this area are calcareous grasslands.

The economic calculations show, that including all costs and profits of the described system of sheep-farming there will be still an economic deficit for the farrner. The deficit corresponds to 20% to 30% of the annual costs of the sheep barns required for running the proposed system. lt was suggested that the deficit is paid by the public.

The realisation of this land-use concept for Münsingen started in 1996.

3. Realisation

In combination with the realisation of the farming program efforts are made to include the public in the aimed regional agricultural system. Main emphasis is laid on the development of a market for regional products. Shops were built up which are specialised in products of the region and several farms started to sell their agricultural products by their own. Several guides describe these shops and farms for tourists. Furthermore, restaurants in the model region offer traditional or special meals with regional products, especially lamb meat for their dishes. However, despite these efforts to maintain the calcareous grasslands in the model region by grazing through shepherding financial support by the govemment is still needed.

4. References

Beinlich, B. & H. Plachter (Eds., 1995): Ein Naturschutzkonzept für die Kalkmagerrasen der Mittleren Schwäbischen Alb (Baden-Württemberg): Schutz, Nutzung und Entwicklung. Beih. Veröff. Naturschutz Landschaftspflege Bad.-Württ. 83: 1-520

Beinlich, B. (1997): Ein Naturschutzleitbild für die zukünftige Entwicklung der Kalkmagerrasen (Mesobromion) und der mageren Wirtschaftswiesen der Schwäbischen Alb. Schr.-R. d. Deutschen Rates für Landschaftsplege 67: 112-11.9

© IBR : 10.03.2003