Common pasture biotope

Common pastures are meadows for grazing animals. They often have a park-like character with grazed areas within the forest, large free-standing trees, copses, bushes and closely grazed areas of grass, all close to each other. In the past cattle were often tended by herdsmen. For reasons of safety, fences now have to be erected; for cost reasons the permanent supervision of small herds is no longer economic. The modern pattern of grazing on the common pastures therefore does not fully correspond to the traditional image.

Common pasture with "Gelbvieh" (literally "yellow cattle")
Common pasture with 'Gelbvieh' (literally 'yellow cattle')

The origin of a common pasture 

In the past cattle were allowed to graze in the forest as well as on grass land. The result was that natural regeneration was partially suppressed. On the other hand fructiferous trees such as oaks were deliberately protected. The common pastures were used for grazing cattle, sheep, goats, pigs as well as for poultry using a system that had been optimised over the centuries.

Red deer on the common pastures

Flora and Fauna

The open forest structures in the project area have largely disappeared as a result of the grazing forest areas over the last twenty years or more. This produced a decline in the number of some butterfly and moth species such as the fritillary, beetle species such as the stag beetle and many bird species such as the collared flycatcher and the middle-spotted woodpecker.

Significance for Europe

Common pastures form 'high Nature value farmland' everywhere in Europe. These areas occur much less frequently in Germany than in other European countries.