Press release 59/23 - 17.07.2023

Who’s (not) mowing?

Natural maintenance of green spaces on the campus of the University of Augsburg

In the summer time in particular, vegetation grows and thrives everywhere on the university campus. But how can the abundance of greenery be managed sustainably and still be used with added value for students and employees? The Environmental Science Centre (WZU) and the university's gardeners provide an insight into their commitment to biodiversity on campus.

Plants and animals are also at home on the roofs of some university buildings. Photo: University of Augsburg

This year, the WZU is once again using sheep for environmentally friendly maintenance of green spaces, grazing the university heath and the flowering meadow at the physics buildings in a particularly gentle manner and without the noise of machines. This project is being carried out in cooperation with the Chair of Biogeography (Dipl.-Geogr. Ildiko Remenyi -Vogt). "By not using technical mowing tools, we can preserve the extraordinary biodiversity of the two green spaces that has been built up over the years," says Prof. Dr. Jens Soentgen from the Environmental Science Centre. “We have already identified more than 120 species, some of which are very rare. And the sheep do not interfere unfavourably with this ecosystem.” The university heath was created in 2013 by “seed inoculation” by transferring grass cuttings from various local heath areas around the WZU. Today, the university heath is the habitat with the highest biodiversity on the entire campus. Several master's theses have documented the development of the university heath and have examined its use in natural history education.

Lech Heath in front of the WZU
Green Campus
Flowering meadow with insect hotel
Sheep as living lawnmowers

Green space the size of 36 football pitches

The aspect of sustainability is also important to the university gardeners in their daily work. Around 25 to 27 hectares of green and outdoor areas are part of the university campus, including the green roofs - recently also on the roofs of the WiWi lecture hall centre and the mathematics building. Thomas Walter from "Referat V/2 - Building Management" pays particular attention to a natural approach to the landscape on campus. "We do the work behind the scenes so that people and nature can live together and side by side on the site in the best possible way." The main focus here is on the areas between and on top of the buildings, which are mown as infrequently as possible - only about twice a year. Less mowing means more biodiversity in the flora and fauna on campus. Important habitats and feeding opportunities are thus preserved for insect and bird life. In this way the university is making an important contribution to the environment.

Mowing is only done more frequently where areas are used regularly or where people or traffic are affected by the long grass – for example along the edges of paths and for sunbathing areas at the university lake.
Teaching at the university also benefits from the lush meadows. The specially created insect meadow, along with a bee hotel on the slope between the central library and the watercourse, serves as a "real world laboratory" for the Department of Teacher Training in matters of environmental education and sustainability. Another large flowering meadow was created by the Environmental Science Centre in front of the Institute of Physics.

The campus is characterised a wide variety of plants and animals, some of them very rare and strictly protected. A digital nature guide makes these visible and tangible.


Environmental Science Center
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Gerhard Schenkel
Abteilung V - Bau und Technik

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