Alpine Biodiversity Voluntary Camps in Berchtesgaden, Germany

Nationale Naturlandschaften e.V., is a non-profit organisation which works on the protection and preservation of the unique natural and cultural landscapes of Germany. The Berchtesgadener Land Biosphere Region is a member of Nationale Naturlandschaften e.V.. UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, such as the Berchtesgadener Land, are model regions for sustainable development. They aim to successfully balance the interests of the livelihoods of people with those of nature conservation, building on local participation and a knowledge-based approach.

Berchtesgadener Land Biosphere Region is the only Alpine Biosphere Reserve in Germany. The region includes foothills of the Alps in the north and, to the south, high peaks and mountainous relief. This diversified cultural landscape is a valuable resource for wildlife, the region’s inhabitants, and outdoor enthusiasts. People from all over the world come to the region doing all kind of sports like hiking, trailrunning or cycling in this beautiful unique landscape.

Through two voluntary camps this project will work to restore important habitats of alpine species, supporting the biodiversity in the cultural landscape. The camps will be open for German speaking participants from all over Germany as well as other countries. Volunteers experience will be supported by educational elements, such as guided wildlife watching tours.

The camps will work in cooperation with local partners from nature protection organisations, local farmers and forestry organisations. The camps will focus on the following actions:

  • cutting hay to reopen habitat of alpine goose;
  • removing shrubs to revitalise mountain pastures;
  • cutting out impressive point of views;
  • revitalize alpine areas that got damaged by avalanches;
  • removing invasive neophytes;
  • restoring wetlands (e.g. wet straw meadows);
  • collecting seed from grassland with high biodiversity of native, endangered plants to enrich other grassland; and
  • maintaining biking and hiking trails.

The Update

This project’s conservation camps were successfully carried out over two one-week periods in September 2020. The main conservation measures implemented were the restoration of alpine meadows and peat bogs through the removal of species including ferns, shrubs, and trees, as well as planting native alpine grass and flowering plant species. Machinery could not be used on these sensitive habitats, consequently, all restoration work was undertaken by hand: 900-man hours of voluntary work was undertaken by 33 volunteers, accompanied by ecologists and guides. Their dedicated work has restored 34 hectares of important mountain landscape.

The project also carried out a programme of presentations and discussions on conservation in mountain landscapes with experts from the regional nature conservation authority and forestry administration.

The project was also able to fund a variety of different activities through an encouragement award to help fund volunteers / tools / identification keys etc. This enabled a variety of additional actions including conservation of habitats (such as rare dry grassland and floodplain forest), tree planting, clean-up actions, volunteer training events, trail maintenance, etc.

The Biosphere Reserve and Nationale Naturlandschaften e.V. intend to undertake further voluntary activities to maintain the valuable conservation work undertaken by this project.

Thanks to The North Face Explore fund for enabling this project.

Image: Moosenalm. Image credit: Alicia Loreth