Core zones of the biosphere reserve become a hotspot for biodiversity

The fact that the forests in the rhon are not doing well after the drought and heat summers of the past two years is now no longer hidden from less attentive observers in the woods and meadows. The bark beetles are making "book printers" out of the spruces and "copper engraver hard to cope with, the pines suffer from "prachtkafern and "death of the drive. And even the red beech – the natural tree species of the rhon par excellence – is suffering in many places from the drought stress. But it’s not just commercial forests that are suffering at the moment; the situation in the forested core zones of the rhon biosphere reserve is also very tense in many places.

This situation was an occasion for the bavarian administrative office of the rhon biosphere reserve in oberelsbach and the office for food, agriculture and forestry (AELF) in bad neustadt to jointly invite all municipalities to an information exchange, which had contributed communal forest areas as core zones to the rhon biosphere reserve in 2013.

The 1. The mayor of oberelsbach, birgit erb (CSU), made it possible for the event to be held in compliance with corona by providing the elstalhalle.

Tobias gerlach from the administrative office first explained that 14 towns and municipalities from fladungen in the north to hammelburg in the south, as well as the two counties of bad kissingen and rhon-grabfeld, had contributed a total of over 700 hectares of forest for core zones at the time. This is just under one-fifth of the total core zone area of approximately 3900 hectares. The range is from just over one hectare to over 130 hectares per municipality. The remaining core zone areas were contributed by the state of bavaria and the federal republic of germany with their state and federal forests, respectively, according to gerlach.

Extensive care services

Hubert turich from the forestry department at AELF bad neustadt a. D. Saale once again outlined the core zone designation process at the time and the most important contents of the core zone nature conservation area ordinance as well as the provision agreements concluded between the state of bavaria and the municipalities. He informed the representatives of the municipalities that, although it was no longer possible to use wood in the core zones, the municipalities still had to provide extensive support services for a contractually fixed fee. As an example, he cited tasks in the area of traffic safety on roads and paths, which is a particular challenge given the current poor condition of the forests. However, tasks in the areas of road maintenance, border marking, hunting, public relations work and research also continued, despite the fact that they were no longer used, according to turich.

775 species of kafer have been identified

At the end of the exchange of information, tobias gerlach once again turned his attention to the actual purpose of the core zones: they served not only for recreation and environmental education, but especially as regional reference areas of natural forest processes. Over a long period of time, we want to observe how the tree species composition, the wood increment, the proportion of deadwood and, with these factors, the animal, plant and fungus species that occur change. The first results of the study already showed that the highly diverse core zones were a hotspot of species diversity due to the fact that they had been managed in a near-natural way in the past and were now being developed in an undisturbed way. So far, for example, 775 species of kafer have been identified, of which 394 are dependent on deadwood and 140 are red-listed species. "In the core zones, more than ten percent of the kafer species occurring in germany have already been detected, although the core zones account for only about 0.0001 percent of the area of the federal republic of germany", gerlach stated enthusiastically.

But the first effects of climate change can also be seen. Thus, more and more warm-loving species could be observed even in the higher altitudes. On the other hand, there is a loss of species adapted to cooler conditions.

Excursions in the spotlight

The participants of the information exchange agreed to repeat such an event from time to time for the core zone municipalities. Michael geier, head of the administrative office, and oliver kroner, head of the AELF, were happy to take up the suggestion of giving the core zones and their "inhabitants" a closer look to pay a visit to the core zones and their "inhabitants" in the context of excursions.

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