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Habitats


Nardus grasslands (mat grass meadows)


Multifarious Nardus grasslands (Nardo-Galion saxatilis) arised in the Eifel under conditions with high precipitation and as a result of extensive grazing or irregular mowing on flat founding soils with siliceous parent rock. Nowadays Nardus grasslands became very rare as a result of the intensive use of the land and they almost disappeared from the lowlands. The present distribution area pretends a limitation on the higher uplands. Species-rich Nardus grasslands are unable to tolerate intensive use, fertilization and overgrazing. Due to the abandonment of the agricultural use (scrub encroachment, reforestation) and equally by more intensive agricultural use this biosphere is endangered. Nardus grasslands are often formed in very small-areas only.

The existing Nardus grasslands have a very different diverse, location dependent characteristic. In the Eifel the following forms can be differed:

The classic form of the mountain mat grass meadows (Nardo-Galion saxatilis) is most widely spread in the project regions. To the characteristic species mat grass (Nardus stricta), milkwort (Polygala vulgaris), arnica (Arnica montana), black knapweed (Centaurea nigra) and even sometimes baldmoney (Meum athamanticum) are ranking amoung. Within the region” Meadows, Nardus grasslands and heathlands at Sistig” several rare, protected and endangered plant species are to be found in addition, i.e. heath spotted orchid (Dactylorrhizza maculata), greater butterfly orchid (Platanthera clorantha), marsh gentian (Gentiana pneumonanthe) and Pseudorchis albida.

The wing broom-pasture (Festuco-Genistelletum-sagittal) is the typical community of plants of the highly located, rather dry  sites. Her characteristic species include wing broom (Genista sagittalis), common milkwort (Polygala vulgaris) and oat pasture (Avena pratensis).

Nardo Juncetum squarrosi settles marshy grounds. Typical species there are peat-rush (Juncus squarrosus), mat grass (Nardus stricta), forest lousewort (Pedicularis sylvatica) and various small sedges. Nardo Juncetum squarrosi occur not only in mowed but also grazed Nardus grasslands. Remains of Nardo Juncetum squarrosi can be found in small areas of the Natura 2000 sites "Baasemer forest" and "Meadows, Nardus grasslands and heathlands at Sistig".

The broom-grasslands ("Sarothamno-Nardetum") are found in the project regions only on very small areas. The historical use can still be seen on the vegetation. Broom-grasslands are relatively species-poor, mostly overgrown with species such as the Red bentgrass (Agrostis capillaris) and the turnout honey grass (Holcus mollis), and sometimes endangered species such as arnica (Arnica montana). On the other hand woody pioneer plants such as Scotch broom, blackberry and weeping birch participate regularly on vegetational development.

Small but lovely: milkwort.

Dry heaths


On nutrient-poor, more or less acidic locations the dry European heaths can be found: they are dominated by dwarf shrubs. Often they appear in close proximity to Nardus grasslands and mountain meadows.

Mostly they were caused by grazing and sod cutting. Thereby the uppermost soil layer together with its humus is removed. In former times the sods were used as stable bedding. By this type of use nutrients have been reduced more and more and the typical plant species weak in competion could spread.

Characteristic species are mainly the dwarf shrub heath (Calluna vulgaris), blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), cowberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), hair-broom (Genista pilosa) and German broom (Genista germanica).

These habitats are endangered primarily by nutrient input, discontinued (traditional) use and encroachment or reforestation (progress of succession), afforestation and intensive recreational use.

The broom heathen characterizes the dry heath landscapes.

Wet heaths


Wet heaths are to be found on moist, nutrient-poor, boggy soils. They are dwarf shrub heaths too and dominated by cross-leaved heath (Erica tetralix).

Characteristic species of this rare and only small-area arsing type of habitat are heath rush (Juncus squarrosus), round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia), hare`s-tail cottongrass (Eriophorum vaginatum), tall cottongrass (Eriophorum angustifolium), bog bilberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus ), purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea) and various bog mosses.

Apart from nutrient entry in particular drainage and afforestation as well as grassing and increasing encroachment are factors that threaten this habitat type.

The light needy cross-leaved heath shows wet and damp locations.

Mountain hay meadows


Mountain hay meadows are typical, man-made habitats, which occur at higher elevations. They are species-rich, extensively used grasslands with an average supply of nutrients in the mountain zone. This habitat represents a characteristic element of the rural cultivated landscape of the Central German Uplands. In the project area mountain hay meadows have the largest portion of the agricultural land. Locally they exist in cool and moist sites of the uplands beyond some 450 m above sea level.

These meadows become multiclored by woodland geranium (Geranium sylvaticum), red campion (Silene dioica), yellow oatgrass (Trisetum flavescens), common hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium), serpentory (Bistorta officinalis) and clustered bellflower (Campanula glomerata).

Causes for decrease or risk factors are intensification of the use (fertilization, application of herbicides, drainage, intensive grazing), conversion to pasture, give-up of farming, ploughing, afforestation, development and intensive recreational use (trampling, eutrophication, removal of plants).

The woodland geranium: A typical representative of the mountain cutting meadow.