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Maintenance of species rich grassland through results-based agri-environment schemes – Germany, various Länder

Several German federal states run broadly similar results-based agri-environment schemes for the maintenance of species-rich meadows and pastures. In 2013, the schemes covered over 50,000 ha of grassland in Germany. The schemes in Baden-Württemberg and Rheinland-Pfalz are described in separate fiches to provide some detail on scheme design and operation. This fiche provides an overview of the range of species rich results-based agri-environment schemes operating in Germany.
Schemes were available in the 2007-2013 period and are planned to be continued in the following federal states:

  • Baden-Württemberg: MEKA program B4 Artenreiches Grünland (4-indicator species) (2007-2014); MEPL-III measure 10.1.12 (2014-2020) (4-indicator and 6-indicator species schemes).
  • Niedersachsen & Bremen: Niedersächsisches und Bremisches Agrarumweltprogramm (NAU/BAU) Dauergrünland: ‘ergebnisorientierte Honorierung’ B2 for at least 4 indicators and KoopNat FM-Nr. 411 as an additional payment to top up B2 for at least 6 indicator species (2007-2013); Niedersächsische und Bremer Agrarumweltmaßnahmen (NiB-AUM) GL5.1 (4-indicator species), GL5.2 (6-indicator), GL5.3 (8-indicator species) (2014-2020).
  • Rheinland-Pfalz: PAUL-a 2007 Kennartenprogramme zur Grünlandförderung (4-indicator and 8-indicator species schemes) (2007-2013); ELER Program EULLa Kennarten Mähwiesen und Weiden /Kennarten Artenreiches Grünland (4-indicator and 8-indicator species schemes) (2014-2020)
  • Thüringen: KULAP L4 Artenreiches Grünland (2007-2013); KULAP Artenreiches Grünland G11 & G12 (2014-2020)
These additional federal states are introducing schemes in the 2014-2020 period:
  • Bayern: KULAP Erhaltung artenreicher Grünlandbestände (M10.1.08) (4-indicator) plus a separate scheme for areas with an Annex I grassland habitat of European importance (6-indicator species) (GL2.3) (2014-2020).
  • Hessen: Förderung besonders nachhaltiger Verfahren Dauergrünland: D3 Kennartennachweis (4, 6 indicators and 8 indicator species) to be introduced from 2016 (Hessen 2014)
  • Sachsen: Ergebnisorientierte Honorierung artenreiches Grünland GL1a (4-indicator), GL1b (6-indicator species), GL1c (8-indicator species) (2014-2020) (SMUL 2013,)
Brandenburg, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Saarland, Sachsen-Anhalt and Schleswig-Holstein do not have a results-based grassland scheme in their rural development programmes for 2014 - 2020. However, Schleswig-Holstein has a privately-run scheme in the region of Steinburg (described in a separate fiche) and Brandenburg-Berlin uses an indicator list and the four indicator threshold as a qualification criterion for a management-based agri-environment programme (Brandenburg KULAP 2007-13).


General characteristics

Geographic details
Baden-Württemberg, Niedersachsen & Bremen, Rheinland-Pfalz, and Thüringen all operated results-based schemes in 2007 - 13, and have continued to operate these in the 2014-20 programming period. New schemes are being introduced in the 2014-2020 period in Bayern, Hessen and Sachsen.
The schemes are generally applicable over the whole area of the regions where they are available, and have relatively large target areas, for example:
  • Around 25% of the permanent grassland in Baden-Württemberg qualified for the 4-indicator threshold in 2005 (Krismann et al 2006);
  • Around 26,400 ha of hay meadows in Niedersachsen & Bremen qualified for the 4-indicator threshold in 2004-5 (Most & Keienburg 2006, Wicke 2011);
  • Around 40,000 ha of grassland in Thüringen qualified in the 2007-2013 period (including 14,038 ha that meets the 4-indicator threshold, and 25,000 ha that meets the 6-indicator threshold) (TMLFUN, 2013).
Management requirements
Most schemes have a basic requirement for annual grazing and/or mowing, sometimes also specifying that the cut grass must be removed from the parcel (with Hessen specifying that this must occur between 1 May and 30 September). There are generally no restrictions on the type of grazing livestock that can be used.
Most schemes have a general prohibition on actions that have negative effects on the biodiversity conservation goals (including ploughing, landscaping, drainage as well as non-agricultural uses of the land such as camping). Reseeding can generally only be carried out with permission of the nature conservation authority.
German federal states have taken different approaches to the extent to which results-based schemes can be combined with management-based schemes.
Scheme selection process and entry requirements
All schemes require farmers to pass an entry threshold - the demonstrated presence of at least the required number of indicator species in the required monitoring sections. This helps to ensure that the parcels entered into the scheme are already species rich, with the aim of the scheme to maintain this richness.
The schemes operate through 5 year agri-environment contracts. In those Länder with multi-level schemes, it is generally possible to switch up from a lower threshold (e.g. 4 indicator species) to a higher threshold (e.g. 6 indicator species) during the contract period, but it is not possible to switch down from a higher threshold to a lower threshold.
Applications to enter the scheme must be checked and approved by a nature conservation expert (e.g. Rheinland-Pfalz) or by the regional nature conservation authority (UNB) (e.g. Thüringen). For the planned new scheme in Hessen, to be launched in 2016, entry will only be possible in conjunction with the use of advice and information from non-agricultural advisors funded by the co-operation measure, ensuring the participation of local groups providing this service, such as the land care association groups (Landschaftspflegeverbände) and/or the regional nature conservation authorities (Hessen 2014).
The schemes are generally not permitted in Natura 2000 areas and other protected areas in situations where these areas have management restrictions in place that might contradict the management freedom available under the results-based scheme, such as the restricted use of manure in Natura 2000 areas.

Payment information

Results indicators
The schemes all use a similar design whereby a minimum number of 4 indicator species from a regional list of species must be present across the parcel as an indication of species richness. Some schemes also include higher thresholds of 6 or 8 indicator species with higher payments.
The indicator lists contain between 27 and 36 species and groups (genera and similar species within families), covering the main grassland types in that federal state. This is accompanied by photos and an identification guide.
For all schemes the indicators must be present in each half or third of the transect (depending on the size of the field), not counting the outermost 5m of the parcel (except in Niedersachsen where the transect is divided into two sections and the outermost 3 m are excluded) (for monitoring details, see below).
Nature of payments and their structure
The payment rates for the German grassland meadow schemes in 2007-2013 ranged from €60 to €150 per ha for the minimum number of 4 indicator species identified. The payment levels for some of the German 2007-2013 schemes are:
  • Niedersachsen & Bremen: €150 per ha for at least 4 indicators and €255 per ha for at least 6 indicators;
  • Thüringen: €110 per ha for at least 4 indicators.
Note: the proposed payments for 2014-2020 are higher.
In many cases, these results-based schemes are or can be combined with management-based schemes in the overall agri-environment programme, therefore the payment rates are part of a wider agri-environment payment package.

Control mechanisms

Description of control mechanisms

Evaluation and monitoring

Scientific evaluation
Only some of the schemes operating in the 2007-2013 period have been subject to scientific evaluation.
For example, a survey of species richness and grassland type was carried out on a sample of 26 parcels in the Niedersachsen-Bremen scheme in 2009 to test whether the scheme was adequately targeting species-rich grassland (see ecological evaluation below). The Baden-Württemberg evaluations in 2002 and 2005 and the Rheinland-Pfalz evaluations in 2008-2012 are discussed in their respective fiches.
Indicator lists have been developed based on a thorough scientific evaluation and testing process. The list of 31 indicator species for Niedersachsen was compiled based on a sample survey, which found that the indicator species correlate well with total species richness and total number of red-listed species in the grassland parcels (Bertke et al 2008). The Bayern list was developed from a grassland survey database of 6,108 grassland survey samples from all the biogeographic regions of Bayern (Heinz et al, 2013).
Monitoring framework
The farmer is responsible for self-monitoring each parcel by walking a transect line that crosses the parcel at its widest point along a diagonal line from corner to corner. They look for and identify key indicator species in a 2m wide strip (1m on each side of the line). The farmer must keep a record of the monitoring results annually and make it available for control by the agricultural authorities (see below). The indicators must be present in each third of the transect, not counting the outermost 5m of the parcel (except in Niedersachsen where the transect is divided into two sections and the outermost 3 m are excluded).
The uptake and performance of the scheme is monitored through recording the number of farmers and area under agreement. Control and compliance checking is carried out within the normal IACS control. The control checks whether the required number of key species is present and whether the prohibitions have been met (e.g. prohibition on ploughing).
Observed ecological results
Ecological results are available for the Niedersachsen-Bremen, Baden-Württemberg and Rheinland-Pfalz schemes, the latter two being discussed in their respective fiches.
A survey in Niedersachsen-Bremen in 2009 measured the species richness of a sample of 10 parcels in two regions on a total of 619 ha enrolled in the 4-indicator scheme, and 16 parcels in the same regions on a total of 373 ha enrolled in the 6-indicator scheme (NLWKN 2010) (in total 3,300 ha were enrolled in the scheme in 2013 (NMELV 2013)).
  • The survey found that most of the parcels in the 4-indicator scheme were mesic grasslands with medium species richness, while a third were classified as highly biodiverse (NLWKN 2010). The average species density on 25m2 sample plots was 19.1, ranging between 10 and 26.
  • In contrast, the parcels in the 6-indicator scheme were almost all classified as species-rich with an average of 21.8 to 28.8 species per 25m2 plot and included Red List plant species.
The biodiversity conservation impact of the 6-indicator scheme was therefore scored as high, whilst the 4-indicator scheme was scored as medium-high, in comparison with the other available agri-environment schemes for grassland. The survey confirmed that the scheme is targeting highly species rich grassland, and that the two different indicator levels are successfully incentivising the maintenance of different levels of biodiversity.
Observed socio-economic results
Reporting on the observed socio-economic results for these schemes is more anecdotal in nature.
There have been increases in the area covered by the schemes in Niedersachsen-Bremen and Thüringen year on year and the fact that schemes are being introduced in three new federal states in Germany is an indication of their attractiveness to farmers. For example a survey of farmers in Niedersachsen in 2010 found that a results-based approach would be likely to increase the acceptability of agri-environment schemes; however, the survey was not targeted at the farmers with species-rich grassland that qualifies for the schemes (Niens & Marggraf 2010).
Details of the Baden-Württemberg and the Rheinland-Pfalz results are discussed in their respective fiches.
Success factors
The level of advice and simplicity and attractiveness of guidance materials available to farmers is considered a significant success factor of the current results-based schemes in Germany alongside the amount of time and effort put into scheme implementation, including independent advice and farmer training in plant identification.
Farmers generally value the management flexibility the scheme offers, for example to vary the timing of mowing within the specified limits. Farmers and ecologists were generally discontent with the previous management-based schemes for extensive grassland management with a fixed number of cuts and cutting dates.
The success factors for the Baden-Württemberg and the Rheinland-Pfalz are discussed in more detail separately.
Barriers to implementation / challenges
Barriers to scheme implementation across Germany are not well documented. More detailed analysis can be found in separate fiches relating to the German results-based schemes in particular Länder.
Information source(s)
Bertke E, Klimek S and Wittig B (2008) Developing result-orientated payment schemes for environmental services in grasslands: results from two case studies in North-western Germany. Biodiversity, No 9, (1-2) pp91-95.
Brandenburg Ministry of Agriculture (2014) Richtlinie des Ministeriums für Infrastruktur und Landwirtschaft des Landes Brandenburg zur Förderung umweltgerechter landwirtschaftlicher Produktionsverfahren und zur Erhaltung der Kulturlandschaft der Länder Brandenburg und Berlin (KULAP 2007) vom 5 Februar 2014, p9 Einzelflächenbezogene extensive Bewirtschaftung bestimmter Grünlandstandorte. Available at
Dickel R, Reiter K, Roggendorf W and Sander A (2010) Halbzeitbewertung von PROFIL für Niedersachsen-Bremen [mid-term review of RDP]. Teil II - Kapitel 13. Zahlungen für Agrarumweltmassnahmen (ELER-Code 214). Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz, Braunschweig. Available at
Freistaat Sachsen LULG (2014) Artenreiches Grünland in Sachsen: Bestimmungshilfe für die Kennarten. 2 Auflage, Landesamt für Umwelt, Landwirtschaft und Geologie der Freistaat Sachsen. Available at
Freistaat Thüringen (2008) KULAP 2007 L4 – Artenreiches Grünland. Anleitung zur Beurteilung einer Grünlandfläche. Ministerium für Landwirtschaft, Naturschutz und Umwelt. Thüringer Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft. Available at
Heinz, S, Mayer, F and Kuhn, G (2013) Grünlandmonitoring als Instrument zur Entwicklung einer Kennartenliste für artenreiches Grünland [Using grassland monitoring to compile a list of the indicator species of species-rich grassland]. Natur und Landschaft, No 9/10, pp386-391.
Hessen (2014a) Hessische Programm für Agrarumwelt- und Landschaftspflege-Maßnahmen (HALM). Besonders nachhaltige Verfahren auf Dauergrünland: Kennartennachweis (ab 2015). Available at
Hessen (2014b) Richtlinien Entwurf vom 10.7.2014. Hessische Programm für Agrarumwelt- und Landschaftspflege-Maßnahmen (HALM). Hessisches Ministerium für Umwelt, Klimaschutz, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz. Available at
Hochberg, H (2013) Artenreiches Grünland durch erfolgsorientierte Honorierung. Presentation at 21st Sächsischer Grünlandtag - Stollberg, 19 June 2013, Germany. Available at
Höft A, Isselstein, J and Gerowitt, B (2007) On transferring outcome-oriented agri-environmental reward schemes for grasslands between regions. International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management, No 3, (4) pp195-208.
Krismann A, Dieterich M and Oppermann R (2006) Evaluierung der Förderung ökologisch wertvollen Grünlands in MEKA II. MLR Baden-Württemberg.
LfL (2011) Erfolgsorientierte Honorierung im Grünland. Bayerisches Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft.
LfL (2014) Artenreiches Grünland: Ergebnisorientierte Grünlandnutzung. Bestimmungshilfe. Bayerisches Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft. Available at
Matzdorf B, Kaiser T and Rohner M-S (2008) Developing biodiversity indicator to design efficient agri-environmental schemes for extensively used grassland. Ecological Indicators, No 8, (3) pp256-269.
Most A (2011) Artenreiches Grünland in Niedersachsen. Vortrag Oldenburg, 13 September 2011. Niedersächsischer Landesbetrieb für Wasserwirtschaft, Küsten- und Naturschutz.
Most A and Keienburg T (2006) Entwicklung und Erprobung von Methoden für die ergebnisorientierte Honorierung ökologischer Leistungen im Grünland Nordwestdeutschlands, in U Hampicke (ed) Anreiz: Ökonomie Der Honorierung Ökologischer Leistungen. Workshopreihe 'Naturschutz Und Ökonomie' Teil I, pp101-106. vol. BfN-Skripten 179 Bundesamt für Naturschutz, Germany. Available at
Niens C and Marggraf R (2010) Handlungsempfehlungen zur Steigerung der Akzeptanz von Agrarumweltmassnahmen – Ergebnisse einer Befragung von Landwirten und Landwirtinnen in Niedersachsen. Berichte über Landwirtschaft 88 (1): 5-36. Available at
Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz.
NLWKN (2010) Wirkungen des Kooperationsprogramms Naturschutz und weiterer PROFIL-Agrarumweltmassnahmen auf die Biodiversität – Ergebnisse der Untersuchungen 2007-2009. Niedersächsischer Landesbetrieb für Wasserwirtschaft, Küsten und Naturschutz. Hannover, Germany.
NLWKN (2014) Blumenwiesen: Förderung von artenreichem Grünland. Bestimmungshilfe für die in den Förderprogrammen verwendeten Kennarten. 4 Auflage, Niedersächsischer Landesbetrieb für Wasserwirtschaft, Küsten- und Naturschutz (NLWKN) in Zusammenarbeit mit der Alfred Toepfer Akademie für Naturschutz (NNA). Available at
Rheinland-Pfalz (2010) Kennarten. PAUL-a Vertragsnaturschutz Grünland. Landesamt für Umwelt, Wasserwirtschaft und Gewerbeaufsicht. Available at,11111111-1111-1111-1111-111111111111.pdf
Ruff M, Kuhn G, Heinz S, Kollmann J and Albrecht H (2013) Beurteilung der Artenvielfalt im Wirtschaftsgrünland kleinstrukturierter Gebiete [Evaluation of plant species diversity in grasslands in small-structured landscapes - a methodological study for agri-environmental schemes]. Naturschutz und Landschaftsplanung, No 45, (3) pp76-82.
SMUL (2013) Ergebnisorientierte Honorierung artenreichen Grünlandes in Sachsen. Informationsveranstaltung. Freistaat Sachsen Landesamt für Umwelt, Landwirtschaft und Geologie. Available at
Stegmann S, Welz D, Horlitz T, Jungmann S, Rudow K, Bathke M, Kleibisch C and Oerkermann G (2010) Halbzeitbewertung des Entwicklungsplans für den ländlichen Raum Brandenburgs und Berlins (EPLR) 2007 bis 2013. BonnEval, entera, AFC Management Consulting AG. Available at
TMLFUN (2013) Strategie zur Erhaltung und Nutzung des Dauergrünlandes in Thüringen bis 2020. Projekt-Nr 95.04, Ministerium für Landwirtschaft, Forsten, Umwelt und Naturschutz (TMLFUN), Erfurt, Freistaat Thüringen.
Wicke G (2011) Bestandsaufnahme und Handlungsoptionen zum Grünland in Niedersachsen. Niedersächsischer Landesbetrieb für Wasserwirtschaft, Küsten- und Naturschutz. Vortrag an der Bundesamt für Naturschutz Konferenz Grünland und GAP-Reform 2013, Vilm 4-7.10.2011.

  • Scheme type
  • Hybrid
  • Location
  • Species-rich grassland throughout Germany
  • Farming type
  • Grassland and livestock farms
  • Environmental objectives
  • The preservation of species rich grassland habitats
  • Biodiversity objectives
  • The schemes aim to maintain the species richness of extensively managed meadows.
  • Scheme coverage
  • These schemes are available across various länder in Germany covering various different proportions of semi-natural grasslands.
  • Stakeholders
  • Primarily schemes involve farmers and the agricultural ministry responsible for implementing the scheme. Some involvement of NGOs is seen in some schemes
  • Scheme duration
  • Generally schemes run for 5 years
  • Results indicators
  • The schemes all use a similar design whereby a minimum number of 4 indicator species must be present
  • Management requirements
  • Most schemes have basic management requirements which vary between länder
  • Payment details
  • Payments are made per hectare of species-rich grassland and vary depending on the number of indicator species present. Payments can range from €60/ha up to €150/ha for a minimum of 4 indicator species depending on the länder.
  • Payment source(s)
  • Funded through the agri-environment measure of the CAP