Teutoburger Wald - Forests and limestone quarries

The excursion will visit the Teutoburger Wald, a low mountain range c. 140 km south-west of Bremen. Here, on cretaceous bedrock, extensive calcareous beech forests of the Hordelymo-Fagetum can be found at their North-Western distributional limit in Central Europe. Parts of these beech forests were used for coppicing in the past, which is still visible in the stand structure. Abandoned limestone quarries offer various stages of spontaneous succession and are floristically highly diverse. Apart from numerous orchids, gentians and other species typical of calcareous grasslands, a remarkable number of rare species from other nutrient-poor habitats have established spontaneously, such as Baldellia ranunculoides, Carex lepidocarpa, Eleocharis quinqueflora, Pinguicula vulgaris and Taraxacum bavaricum. Management strategies to preserve these valuable open habitats, for example sheep grazing, will be discussed based on results from ongoing exclosure experiments.

• 08:30 Departure from Münster (parking lot in front of the castle)
• 17:00 Return to Münster (parking lot in front of the castle)

Maximum number of participants: 40
Price: Euro 25.00 includes bus transfer; lunch at canteen is included
Excursion guides: Norbert Hölzel, and Denise Rupprecht

Bee orchid Ophrys apifera (© Norbert Hölzel)

Coppiced beech forest (© Norbert Hölzel)

Coppiced beech forest (© Norbert Hölzel)

Diepholzer Moorniederung - Bog restoration sites North of Münster

The excursion will lead to extensive areas of industrial peat extraction near the city of Vechta 100 km North of Münster. Peat extraction takes place at sites that were previously used for agriculture. After the cessation of peat harvesting, companies are obliged to re-wet the remaining peat deposit to restore the bog vegetation. In case of optimal re-wetting, such measures usually lead to the rapid establishment of pioneer communities dominated by cotton grass (Eriophorum vaginatum, E. angustifolium) and Sphagnum mosses typical of hollows such as Sphagnum cuspidatum and S. fallax. A recent survey of restoration success has shown that hummock Sphagnum mosses, which are essential for the activation of bog regeneration, almost completely failed to re-establish, even after more than 20 years, which is most likely due to dispersal limitation. Therefore, in a pilot project, hummock Sphagnum mosses are propagated and introduced to restored cut-over sites. During the excursion, techniques of Sphagnum propagation as well as different successional stages of bog restoration after peat extraction will be shown. In the Rehdener Geestmoor, a large restored bog complex nearby, general problems of bog restoration, such as stability of water levels, atmospheric nutrient input and grass- and shrub-encroachment will be demonstrated and discussed.

• 08:30 Departure from Münster (parking lot in front of the castle)
• 10:00 Peat moss propagation I: Visit of a propagation station at the company Gramoflor GmbH & Co KG. Demonstration of the current state of research and technical implementation. Introduction to the ecology and biology of Sphagnum.
• 11:30 Peat harvesting and restoration sites in the “Vechtaer Moor”: Visit of field trails on the establishment of hummock peat mosses. Introduction to the landscape and land-use history. Demonstration of different techniques to restore cut-over bogs.
• 12:30 Picknick in the bog
• 13:00 Peat moss propagation II: Visit of a field trail area for larger-scale application. Possibility to visit nearby late-successional restoration stages, e.g. with floating mat vegetation, regarded as references for successful bog restoration (30-60 mins walk).
• 15:00 Stopover in the nature reserve “Rehdener Geestmoor” on our way back to Münster. Visit of a birdwatching tower. Introduction to the history of nature conservation in the area and management activities.
• 18:00 Return to Münster (parking lot in front of the castle)

Maximum number of participants: 40
Price: Euro 40.00 includes bus transfer and lunch box
Excursion guides: Till Kleinebecker, Peter Raabe

(© Peter Raabe)

(© Peter Raabe)

(© Peter Raabe)

(© Peter Raabe)

Rieselfelder of Münster – a man-made wetland and restoration by year-round grazing in the River Ems floodplain

The Rieselfelder are a Natura 2000 site protected under the Birds Directive as a Special Protection Area (SPA) since 1983, comprising c. 4.3 km²; the site is among the most important bird areas in North Rhine Westfalia, with 32 breeding bird species under the Nature Directives of Natura 2000.

The site was once established as the sewage farm in 1901 to purify the wastewater of Münster. The highly eutrophic shallow ponds of the sewage farm became a magnet for waterfowl and migrating waders. After the construction of a modern wastewater plant for Münster In the early 1970, one half of the former sewage farm was abandoned and converted into agricultural land while remaining part became protected as a nature reserve. With financial support from an EU LIFE project, the cultivated part was rewetted and restored between 1997 and 2000. Nowadays, the Rieselfelder are covered with a vast network of shallow ponds of various sizes, including two larger dam ponds, as well as wet meadows, extensive reed beds, fallow land and orchards.

The excursion will cover all major habitats and provide rare sights of spectacular wildlife, including kingfisher, ducks, terns, gulls, birds of prey, but also grass snake (Natrix natrix), true frogs (genus Pelophylax), as well as dragonflies.
On the way back we visit the Emsaue Pöhlen, a wetland area grazed all year round by aurochs and wild horses on the old Ems river course, which is now largely silted up: http://www.nabu-naturschutzstation-muensterland.de/weidelandschaften/emsaue-poehlen-telgte/

• 08:30: Departure from Münster (parking lot in front of the castle)
• 16:00: Return to from Münster (parking lot in front of the castle)

Maximum number of participants: 40
Price: Euro 40.00 includes bus transfer and lunch box
Excursion guides: Hermann Mattes, Christian Göcking

Northern Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus) (© Christoph Scherber)

Gadwall (Mareca strepera) (© Christoph Scherber)

Rohrammer (Emberiza schoeniclus) (© Christoph Scherber)

Aurochs and wild horses (© NABU / Christian Göcking)