Water grasslands in Germany

    What is the used name in your country?
    Wässerwiesen, local name in Oberschwaben (South): Waale
    How/why/by, whom was it created?

    Research: Alexandra Kruse & Michael Roth; upload: Bénédicte Gaillard: The entries are still in process

    Water meadows are a traditional cultural landscape with origin in the 12th century. A system of small canals/ditches and small lakes (Weiher) have been created, in order to collect water from houses, streets and stables which shall be brought into the meadows in order to increase their productivity.

    The highest importance was most probably reached in the 19th century.

    Depending on the given water and relief, there exist(ed) different methods/ techniques, e.g. Überstauung, natürlichen Hangbau, Beethangbau oder der Rückenbau: The latter consists of a complete change of the meadow’s surface.

    Effects: Influence on the vegetation (composition) and on the ditches. Further water meadows have a high diversity on structure and are often listed as cultural memorial (Kulturdenkmäler. [Landschaftspflegeverband Südpfalz]


    Hoppe 2001, PDF
    NABU (2004): Projekt Wässerwiesen Riedfurttalaue Güglingen, Präsentation NABU Group Güglingen/Germany
    see attached excel file: Collection of Literature on water meadows compiled by Klaus Hünerfauth, Neustadt/Germany


    Water meadows are rare today. They have and they had only regional occurence.

    Concentration in Lower Saxony and in the South, in the middle altitudes.

    They existed in the inner Alpine dry areas.

    Locations in the South of Germany:

    • Pfälzerwald: Queichwiesen between Landau and Germersheim
    • Speyerbach next to Geinsheim between Frohnsheim and Aumühle (60 km of ditches? – do not exist anymore);
    • Further: Frankeneck, Sattelmühle, Kupfermühle
    • Elmsteiner Tal; Emmerzhausen Rheinland-Pfalz
    • Elzwiesen/ Rust
    • Moosalbtal, Schutter/Schwarzwald
    • Jossa, Sinngrund/Spessart
    • Weihung/Ulm
    • Wuhren/Hotzenwald, Südschwarzwald
    • Rednitzaue/Franken
    • Forchheim
    • Riedfurttal

    Lower Saxony

    • Rieselwiesen Wiedenhof (landscape museum Kiekeberg/Lower Saxonia)
    • Örtze/Lower Saxony
    • Wiesenbewässerung along the Soeste next to Cloppenburg

    Further locations:

    • Blies in the north of the Saarland
    • Rieselwiesen im Sauerland (North Rhine-Westphalia), e. G. in Wilnsdorf
    Detail of a water plan from 1759, that shows the water meadows between Neustadt und Speyerdorf

    Detail of a water plan from 1759, that shows the water meadows between Neustadt und Speyerdorf

    Physical geography: description

    Northwestern Germany, since 15th cent.

    Stau- und Rieselbewässerung, to improve the productivity of hay; in general: improving the productivity

    In Nordwest-Germany there can be fixed six centres of water meadowing (Hoppe 2001, PDF).

    Often organised in cooperations (Genossenschaften)

    Centre: pleistocan Sand­landscapes of the north German bassin, areas with only low natural productivity. The water-fertilisation was later replaced by chemical fertilisers

    How is it used today?

    Today nearly abandoned. Only a few areas do still practice, e.g. in the Senne (a heath region in the east of Münster), most areas are today used as field for crop production

    By whom is it perceived as threatened?
    State authorities
    Is it combined with/connected to something typical (traditional)?

    No data available (at the moment)

    Is it connected to specific structures?

    meadows, pastures

    Is it connected to specific values?

    It has a certain meaning in biodiversity, therefore there are programs for maintenance

    About awareness

    There is not much awareness about this (old) landscape type in Germany.

    Further information: Text

    There are approaches and some programs in order to maintain these old types either to improve productivity or for biodiversity means. See e.g. the project of NABU Gruppe Güglingen who have restored the water management system of the Riedfurttalaue/Güglingen in 2004