The “wilderness versus biodiversity” conflict

In general, species diversity is greater in the earlier and middle stages of succession than in later woodland stages. This is true for the Sudgelande as well with one small exception. The 40- to 50-year-old black locust stands have shown themselves to be astoundingly rich in plants, ground beetles, and spiders (Kowarik 1992; Platen and Kowarik 1995). Rare and threat­ened species of plants as well as hymenoptera, however, are predominantly found in the dry grasslands (Prasse and Ristow 1995; Saure 2001). A sub­stantial increase in woodlands would emphasize the wilderness character of the Sudgelande, but would also lead to a decline in the characteristic species and communities of the open landscapes.

Thus, the master plan for the Natur-Park Sudgelande had to address two challenges: first, how to open the site to the public without endangering the rich local flora and fauna, and second, how to respond to the natural vege­tation dynamics that would, in a short time, lead to a complete dominance of woodlands.