At least fifty people armed with binoculars and lenses, most of them local residents have come to the old HeidelbergCement quarry Loxberg to enjoy a day out dedicated to biodiversity.
The group is lead by Hartwig Brönner, volunteer and chairman of the local group of the LBV, Bavarian partner of NABU (BirdLife in Germany). The host, Michael Cypra, is here too. He represents HeidelbergCement, the company that has been producing cement from the local limestone for more than a century.
They are currently leading the restoration of biodiversity on these limestone hills, at the left bank of the River Main.
The dry and nutrient-poor grasslands, fragments of which occupy the surrounding hills, are among the most species-rich plant communities in Europe, boasting large numbers of rare and endangered species. The EU considers them priority for conservation (e.g. 6210, ‘Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates Festuco-Brometalia – important orchid sites’). Pressures on these habitats come from the abandonment of land or other changes in their traditional use. Once overgrown or cultivated, their biodiversity is lost. But the good part of the story is that quarrying for limestone creates the right conditions for the restoration of these grasslands.
Reconnecting the remnant grassland patches into an effective ecological network is essential for their conservation. Recognizing their responsibility and strategic position, the company HeidelbergCement and their plant Lengfurt committed to helping to restore and conserve calcareous grassland on their grounds and the immediately adjacent Natura 2000 areas (‘Site of community importance’ DE6123371 Magerstandorte bei Marktheidenfeld und Triefenstein and SCI DE6123302 Maintrockenhänge am Kallmuth und am Hübschenberg).
Hartwig Brönner and Michael Cypra seem to enjoy what they do together. “We are proud of what we can see today. It doesn’t take long to see the positive results of our work, biodiversity is well on the recovery at the former quarry and there is a positive story to tell” says Hartwig. Restoration work on the quarries by the river Main has helped to recreate a typical calcareous cliff with its patchwork of grassland and shrub habitats.
The objectives to be promoted in this partnership project are:
(i) to maintain the important calcareous low-nutrient meadows intact and open through appropriate management regimes; and
(ii) to restore the connectivity of natural habitats between these two Natura 2000 sites.
When complete, this will effectively enlarge the protected Natura 2000 habitats four times.