HNV Farming & Biodiversity

Wolferskopf (Saargau, Germany)

Natura site name: Wolferskopf
Natura Code: DE-6506-301

Large site encompassing all typical habitats of this Muschelkalk region with orchid-rich dry grasslands, lowland hay meadows, orchards, rocky slopes with scree and different forest communities.

Text: B. Hill
© Photos: R. Manderbach, Carles Pastor ("Vogesenrind"; Wickipedia), EPei (Wryneck; Wickipedia)

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Hay meadows and grazing

Today, the use of hay meadows and the grazing of dry grasslands is encouraged by Agri-Emvironment schemes. Management of grasslands and fields is maintained by organic farmers without the use of fertilizers and pesticides.

Part-time fruit-growing


Part-time fruit-growing is an important activity in the area. The orchards provide the basis for high-quality juice, vinegar and fruit-brandy (“Schnaps”).

Shrub encroachment

Until the 1960ies farming in the area was mainly a part-time activity of people working in the mining industry. Since then, loss of farming has caused shrub encroachment and loss of priority habitats.

Vosges mountain cattle

The “Vogesenrind” (Vosges mountain cattle) is a beautiful and rare cattle breed adapted to mountain conditions. A breeding herd is present in the Natura site “Wolferskopf”.(Photo: Wickipedia, EPei)

Chalk quarries

In this Muschelkalk-region small-scale chalk quarries constitute a typical landscape feature.

Dry grasslands

Dry grasslands

Semi-natural dry grasslands on calcareous substrates (*6210): With over 30 orchid and more than 450 plant species the Natura site “Wolferskopf” has a national importance.

Petrifying springs

Petrifying springs

Petrifying springs with tufa formation (*7220): In the otherwise very dry and warm surrounding, these wet habitats have a very distinct flora and fauna: e.g. Southern marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza praetermissa).

Important orchid sites

Important orchid sites

Semi-natural dry grasslands on calcareous substrates (important orchid sites, *6210): Botanists can distinguish a mown (Mesobrometum) and a grazed type (Gentiano-Koelerietum). Today, mowing of the steep and unproductive sites is becoming less attractive:

Lowland hay meadows

Lowland hay meadows

Lowland hay meadows (6510): These grassland rich in flowering plants are important foraging sites for the more than 50 butterfly species recorded in the Natura site.

Yellow-bellied toad

Yellow-bellied toad

Yellow-bellied toad (Bombina variegata, Annex II) inhabits the calcareous springs of the area

Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)


Wryneck (Jynx torquilla), protected by the bird directive as a migratory species, occurs regularly in the orchards, (Photo: Carles Pastor, Wickipedia)

Smooth snake

Coronella austriaca

Smooth snake (Coronella austriaca), listed on Annex IV of the habitat directive, finds suitable conditions in the extensively managed areas

Military Orchid

Orchis militaris

Military Orchid (Orchis militaris), likes full light on a dry calcareous substrate

Pyramidal Orchid

Anacamptis pyramidalis

The Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis), is rare and was declared Orchid of the Year in 1990 to heighten awareness of this plant

Large Copper

Large Copper

The Large Copper (Lycaena dispa, Annex II) - divided into three races - is declining in many European countries

European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism
Date: 2024/06/23
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