Panicled willowherb © Andreas Malten

Biotope mapping

Inventory of animal and plant species

Acting on behalf of the Frankfurt am Main City Council, the Botanical Department at the Senckenberg Research Institute has been mapping biotope types throughout the entire city area since 1985 – with the exception of the nature conservation areas and a few larger industrial sites.

It was appropriate to entrust biotope mapping to the ­Senckenberg Research Institute because one of the primary focuses of its research activities has traditionally been the greater Frankfurt area and because local flora and fauna have been archived in the collection of the Senckenberg Natural Research Society (SGN) for nearly 200 years. That constitutes the best basis for recording, documenting and assessing changes in plant and animal life.

The first round of biotope mapping was concluded in 1990. Since then the maps have been updated in rotation once every five years. “Precision mapping” exercises involve conducting more in-depth botanical and zoological studies in selected areas and habitats. These studies provide answers to questions about landscape structure, the number of species present and nature conservation as well as about upkeep and development. Mapping exercises ­create assessment bases for major planning projects, such as the conversion of the rail freight station and the airport extension.

The results of these studies provide essential data in the early stages of city planning (landscape and nature conservation planning, biodiversity and biotope protection programmes and compensatory measures). They provide scientifically based information on the condition of the areas in question, the risk to natural habitats and the need for protection as well as the feasibility of developing the city’s natural envir­onment. They enable statements to be made about habitats, the spread of plant and animal species, potential risks and the planning of conservation measures.

Picture above: Urban areas typically have a large number of newcomers (neophytes), which are introduced by freight traffic for instance. One example is the panicled willowherb from North America, which has recently been observed in Frankfurt.

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Frankfurt’s flora

The Biotope Mapping Group at the Senckenberg Research Institution and Flora Frankfurt Project Group are compiling a systematic and area-wide record of Frankfurt’s plants. In December 2009 a website was launched, striking out along new paths in the recording of plant life. More