Well-cared for variety

© Walter Venne
A place to breathe freely and deeply: the expansive, sandy heathlands of the Senne. © Walter Venne

At the foot of the Teutoburg Forest a brilliant mosaic meets the eye: broadleaf and conifer woods, fens, heath, dry grasslands, brooks, ponds, meadows and pasture. This is the sandy heath country of the Senne. The ancient cultured landscape developed largely as a result of grazing methods which began as early as the Neolithic period (around 3 500 B.C.) and which changed the country dramatically: where previously extensive forests had been the dominant feature, with the advent of heathland sheep farming, now largely lost, extensive areas of heathland soon prevailed.

A precious habitat under threat
From the middle of the 19th century bit by bit the areas were reforested and open heathland was  gradually transformed back into a woodland landscape. With the retreat of the heath its characteristic animals and plants grew rarer. Today for instance Maiden Pink, Hairy Greenweed, the Sand Lizard and many insect species, such as the Small Emperor Moth, are on the Red List.

Using it to protect it
The original heathland only remains on a few sites. In the Senne the establishment of a military training area 100 years ago was of benefit for the retention of heathland. Military use ensured that the area remained open land. Outside the training area there are comparatively few areas of heathland left. EuroNatur has been supporting the Paderborn-Senne Biological Station for many years now in the care and preservation of this valuable heritage with its wealth of species.

How is EuroNatur supporting the Paderborn-Senne Biological Station?

  • The “Senner horses in the wild” project: The Senner horses, not wild horses but an old and very resistant breed, live from May to the end of November on the pastures in Moosheide Nature Reserve and find their own food there, maintaining it as open land in the process.
  • Professional care for the Nature Reserve: for instance over collecting data on flora and fauna of protected areas, establishing observation areas to examine changes in the landscape, guided tours and measures for general management and development.
  • Public outreach: this invoves among other things maintaining the internet presence where visitors can find information about the Senne; producing guides to nature exploration experiences, hiking maps and further information material as well as giving talks on the region.


What we have so far been able to achieve  – a selection of our successes:

  • Through the range of nature conservation measures we were able to maintain or where necessary create important areas of refuge for many threatened animal and plant species .
  • The Senner horse have been maintaining the dry grasslands as open country  for the last ten years. In the course of grazing little gaps in the grass surface are created leaving miniature spaces room for pioneer plants such as Morison's Spurry and also for many species of insect living in the soil. Beyond that the project helps to secure the survival of a rare horse breed.
  • Reintroducing nomadic sheep herding to the region: To the south of Bielefeld a herd of sheep on the move is grazing and making sure the heathland there is kept free of shrubs.
  • The Nature Reserve measures in the Senne are clearly appreciated by the local population.

Partner: Paderborn – Senne Biological Station

Sponsors: Gelsenwasser AG, Bielefeld City Utilities GmbH,  Wetlands Foundation for Froggy & Friends, EuroNatur donors



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