Wildflower meadow on the Fritz Haber Institute's campus

A joint project of the Fritz Haber Institute and the Freie Universität Berlin creates biodiversity-areas on the neighbouring campus. These provide a nutrious, protective habitat for countless insects, birds, and small animals. This project aims to contribute to the restoration of a functional ecosystem.

Flowering meadows are important for the biodiversity of flora and fauna. Many native insects and birds are dependent on special plants found in the region as a source of food for themselves and their offspring. Unfortunately, they are less and less common both in the city and in the countryside. Agriculturally used areas, but also public green areas, parks and gardens no longer offer a suitable habitat for rare species in particular.

Cultivated lawns dominate especially in inhabited areas, for example the short-cut “Wimbledon lawn”. This is chemically treated to ward off moss and weeds, which leads to increased insect mortality and thus also to a decline in biodiversity. For this reason, the “Blooming Campus” group at Freie Universität Berlin and the sustainability group at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society have set themselves the goal of substituting a number of conventional lawns on their campuses in Dahlem with flowering meadows made from plants originally found in this area. The first flowering meadow was created on the campus of the Fritz Haber Institute in 2020. 

Such flowering meadows even require less intensive care and handling. Frequent mowing and quick removal of the mown material kills many insects because they lack food and protection. As a result, the diversity of insects usually becomes impoverished on green spaces. That is why the Fritz Haber Institute's flowering meadows are not mowed until after mid-June and no more than twice a year, so that meadow plants get from flowering to seed maturity. Only then they are a potential source of food for insects. After mowing, the plant remains are left to rest in the area for some time, because that is how long many insect species need to propagate and then leave the mown area. Then they in turn serve as a food source for native bird species. 

When creating the flowering meadows, care is also taken to ensure that the soil is and remains low in nutrients, because this is how biodiversity can develop here. In nutrient-rich soils, often only a few, strong plant species prevail that are perfectly adapted to this type of soil and can grow faster. Other, less competitive species that are adapted to less nutrient-rich soils lose out. In soils that are poor in nutrients, this gives them a chance to settle, so that greater biodiversity can arise. 

The joint project has already achieved a number of successes. Insects that were already on the red list and were considered extinct have settled on the campus flowering meadows again. These include, for example, the carpenter bee, the largest German digger wasp species Sphex funerarius, and the common pincer grasshopper. Since spring 2020, the FU group “Blooming Campus” has been carrying out butterfly monitoring that has already discovered the butterfly species Icarus paradox, common copper butterfly, fritillary, Bath white and many others.

For further reading

If you would like to deal with this topic further and more profound, you will find further information from the FU on the Blooming Campus project here.

Take a look around the site, everyone is invited to take part!

References and further informationen (in German)

Nabu: Mit Geduld und Spucke - Tipps zur Anlage einer Blumenwiese im Garten

Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und nukleare Sicherheit: Die Lage der Natur in Deutschland - Ergebnisse von EU-Vogelschutz- und FFH-Bericht (PDF)

Kreisverband Bamberg für Gartenbau und Landespflege: Hier blüht's! - Blumenwiese im Hausgarten

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