Brief description

Preservation of the heath area on the Beuelsberg in the north-east of Bonefeld

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Detailed description

Heathland landscapes have been created by human cultivation. Intensive cultivation was not worthwhile on the poor, nutrient-poor soils, which is why farmers drove their cattle onto these areas in earlier times. Since the animals usually spent the night in the barn, only little manure reached the soil, which in turn was constantly depleted of nutrients by grazing. The plants that grow on these meagre heath areas cannot thrive on fertilised areas or in the forest, as they are very weak in competition and unable to assert themselves against stronger-growing plants. After World War II, the extensive use of heathland was mostly abandoned. They fell into disuse or were used intensively for agriculture or forestry. Without maintenance measures, unused heathland areas become grassy and overgrown with bushes. Nutrient inputs from the air lead to the promotion of certain sweet grasses, such as wiregrass and whistling grass, and displace the heath. Without human intervention, shrubs and trees settle and a forest reappears. Today, therefore, there are only very few areas of heath left in Rhineland-Palatinate. One of them is the heath on the Beuelsberg in Bonefeld. As late as the 1960s, the heath was regularly cleared. This removed the vegetation on the surface, but preserved the heather plants because the roots of the plants were not damaged. After the clearing was prohibited, the area became visibly grassy and overgrown. Over the years, a thick layer of humus formed and the heather plants disappeared. A few years ago, the local community of Bonefeld had the opportunity to have the humus layer removed by special machines. The parts of the site that were too steep for the machines were "ploughed off" by hand with special hoes from the Lüneburg Heath. Afterwards, the area was reseeded with heather seeds. After some time, however, the heath area started to become overgrown again. In the course of further efforts to preserve the valuable cultural landscape, NABU Rengsdorf came into play in 2010. Initially, an attempt was made to graze the area with chestnut sheep and black-headed sheep. However, as these did not bite any woody plants and did not eat any gorse, the experiment did not show any lasting success.

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