The Forest Botanical Garden is part of an international network that committed itself to nature and species conservation, based upon the Convention on Biological Diversity (1).
This network consists of more than 350 botanical gardens all over the world. For supplying these and other collections and research facilities with seed, the Forest Botanical Garden undertakes collections from its own stock as well as wild plants in the surrounding area and more distant regions (see seed catalogue, Index Seminum (PDF)). In return, the Forest Botanical Garden acquires seed from botanical gardens in Europe, North America, Japan, Russia, China, Korea and other regions.
Seed from the Forest Botanical Garden (Photograph by S. Eckardt)
Since only a few botanical gardens around the world specialise in the collection of trees and shrubs, the Forest Botanical Garden adds a particular value to the global collective of botanical gardens. With sections covering the regions of North America, Japan, China, Korea and Caucasus/ Asia Minor, the Arboretum encompasses major parts of the woody flora found in the northern hemisphere – a comprehensiveness quite unusual among botanical gardens worldwide. The sections covering Japan, Korea and Caucasus/ Asia Minor have been declared ‘National Conservation Collections’ (Nationale Schutzsammlungen).
The diversity of woody plants of known origin is invaluable for other botanical gardens, research in general and global conservation in particular. The Forest Botanical Garden provides a gene reserve of global significance for the sustainable utilization and biological diversity of forestal woods. Thus, the Forest Botanical Garden and Arboretum deserve a high degree of protection.
Since 1994 the area above Fassbergstraße has been managed mainly in accordance with principles of ecological sustainability, reducing pesticides as far as possible. In this way, lawns previously subjected to intensive mowing and low in species richness have been transformed into wildflower meadows rich in herbs. The meadows are mown once or twice a year by an organic farmer. The first mowing does not take place before ground nesting birds have finished breeding, and the swath is used as roughage for cattle.
Hay harvest in late September
The diversity of woody plants and perennial herbs as well as ecologically sustainable management result in an ample food supply throughout the year. A boom in observed species numbers was noted about three years after shifting the focus on organic management, and today not only the colourful patterns of wildflowers but also the associated insect community, thriving on the steady supply of nectar and pollen, are an attractive feature of the Forest Botanical Garden.
In response to a growing insect community the diversity of bird species, mainly inhabiting shrubby edges and taller trees, increased. Blindworm and lizards utilize limestone walls and piles of rubblestone for basking, finding shelter within niches and cracks. Deliberately built-in cavities in these structures also provide hibernation possibilities and nesting sites for small mammals, such as weasel. Today the Forest Botanical Garden is home to a host of birds, beetles, arachnids, small mammals, butterflies and other insects as well as some amphibian species.
The area now occupied by the Forest Botanical Garden formerly supported calcareous grassland. In recent years two relict patches have been restored sufficiently for the vegetation to re-grow from the seed bank, once again forming formidable patches of calcareous grassland. For instance, vast stands of Gentianella ciliata and G. germanica are in flower in late summer.
Fringed Gentian (Gentianella ciliata)
(1) United Nations Conference on Environment and Development: Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992, 31 I.L.M. 818 (1992)