Nature conservation equals ecosystem conservation
The following guiding principles were adopted for the Rhön biosphere reserve:
Especially valuable and vulnerable ecosystems need protection. This applies to natural as well as to extensively used ecosystems. These areas are defined from the nature conservation point of view and integrated in the zonation concept. The emphasis in the Rhön is upon the extensively used grassland, nardus grassland, limestone grassland, Geranium-Trisetum meadows as well as near-natural bogs and forests. In addition, representative examples of near-natural ecosystems of all differing sites in the Rhön should be included. Up to now, only some special sites are protected. Minimum requirements which built upon population ecology and other functions in the natural household need to be adopted for the long-term maintenance of ecosystems.
This especially concerns the
The deduced requirements are implemented in the zonation concept.
In the cultural landscape of the Rhön, vast areas were created through the extensive use by farms. This use very much influences the value of these areas in respect to nature conservation, especially as habitat for endangered and highly specialised grassland species partly with relict occurrences. For the maintenance of extensively used ecosystems the continued traditional use or appropriate landscape maintenance measures are required. This especially applies to areas with grassland and hedges. In the Rhön, the maintenance of extensively used ecosystems represents the main activity in nature conservation; also in the framework management plan this aspect is prominent.
Not only the protection of some areas by excluding any human use but especially the integration of nature conservation goals with the aims and demands of land use should be achieved in the biosphere reserve. Because the high natural value of the Rhön is relying on the traditionally used cultural landscape special attention should be drawn upon a joint strategy between nature conservation and land use (integrated nature conservation).
This integration may result in strong synergy effects which support environmentally sound activities with economic advantages and which - at the same time - promote nature conservation through landscape maintenance measures.
Because of the already existing rich species and habitat diversity the conservation of the current quality is of particular significance. The greatest importance is attached to the continued use and maintenance of extensively used grassland and small-structured hedge areas by agriculture. Especially, further afforestations of oligotrophic grassland need to be avoided in order to protected habitats, landscape appearance and cultural and historic values.
In forests, the focus is on the conservation of near-natural forests with vast extensions near-natural or natural forestry. Appropriate sites with near-natural deciduous forests are proposed as example of representative forest ecosystems.
Stepping stones which secure the genetic exchange between protected areas are to be created and, finally, also in intensively used areas a minimum standard for animal and plant habitat requirements needs to be ensured. The protection of the abiotic resources air, water, soil are of special significance in more intensively used areas.