Restoration of calcareous grassland in eastern Luxembourg

The aim of the Life+ Nature-project is to secure all remaining calcareous grasslands  (FFH 6210) and existing juniper formations (FFH 5130) in the southeast of Luxembourg and restore them on as many historically known or potential sites as possible.

The national habitat inventory (2014) revealed that the majority of the existing calcareous grassland sites are in an average condition. According to this inventory, it was no longer possible to consider many of the previously known sites as grassland as they had been encroached by scrub and succumbed to natural succession.

Among the most threatened communities are priority-rated, orchid-rich assemblages within calcareous grasslands (Mesobrometum), which tend to be linked to rank-vegetation or mown locations.

Endangered species such as those belonging to the genera Ophrys and Orchis and the field cow-wheat (Melampyrum arvense, classified as a priority species in Luxembourg) are directly dependent on a good state of preservation of calcareous grasslands.

Another focal point are the calcareous grasslands (Gentiano-Koelerietum) which have developed through light grazing. These are characterized by the presence of gentians (Gentiana germanica und G. ciliata) and junipers.

The importance of calcareous grasslands for the conservation of biodiversity is further emphasized by the numerous habitat types with which they are closely linked. The envisaged measures aim at improving the state (removal of moss, grass litter and dead biomass), expanding the surface area (clearing scrub, removing non-native forestation), cross-linking (extensification of adjacent farmland) and long-term protection through land purchases and use. natur&ëmwelt Fondation – Hëllef fir d’Natur (HfN) has many years of experience in purchasing land for the purpose of conservation.

The long-standing cooperation between the Foundation HfN and other conservation organizations in the greater region, which are also working on the preservation and restoration of similar calcareous grasslands, with great success, will be expanded under the project.

The project offers the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the improvement and restoration of calcareous grasslands in Luxembourg. Placing special emphasis placed on the promotion of the priority habitat of the orchid-rich calcareous grasslands will make it possible to realize both, national and European, protection goals.

Project duration and financial framework

The LIFE ORCHIS-Project started on 1 September 2014 and will end in August 2019.

Budget 2.305.400 €
EU contribution (50%) 1.152.700 €
national contribution MDDI-ENV 1.108.436 €
contribution n&ë – HfN 44.264 €