The Belleuropa Award honours a Wildlife Estate Label territory that has realized an important step forward to maintain, protect or improve land for the benefit of biodiversity, using agri-environmental measures and achieving significant results from an environmental point of view.
The Belleuropa Award 2016 was presented by Karl-Heinz Florenz, Member of the European Parliament and Francesco Natta, sponsor of the Belleuropa Award, on the occasion of the European Biodiversity Conference to the owner of the agricultural and silvicultural enterprise Rixdorf which is located in Ostholsteinische Schweiz in Schleswig-Holstein, north of Hamburg. The landscape is dominated by flat hills and post-glacial lakes. Mixed deciduous forests dominate the silvicultural area, and heavy, partly loamy soils dominate the agricultural area of this estate. In addition, grasslands, swamp forests and wetlands (natural ponds and water systems), which are not or only slightly used, connect the areas with each other. Newly developed habitats or the expansion of the existing ones continually increase this important part of functioning ecosystems.
The company Rixdorf has set itself the goal to reconcile the management of agricultural and forestry land with the interests of environment and nature conservation through careful and considerate utilisation of the natural resources and the simultaneous fulfilment of the requirements of various purposes, such as economy, environmental protection and tourism. Certain valuable areas such as swamp- and wastelands, horst trees and their environment are left completely or temporally uncultivated.
The management of the estate, including hunting and fishery, has always been in harmony with the conservation and preservation of game and fish stocks and other flora and fauna. Thus, rare species of animals and plants can maintain or expand their population, while other protected species were able to resettle (sea eagle, crane, black woodpecker, otter, etc.). Some larger areas in Rixdorf are part of the Natura 2000 network. Ecotourism is organised in such a way that unnecessary disturbances to sensitive animal species are avoided and the natural experience is preserved. The listed farmyard with a total of 1.5 hectares of thatched roofed buildings is often the starting point of guided excursions. The guests have the opportunity to get to know the natural diversity of Rixdorf’s agriculture and forestry. Internships and training positions provide experience for the young generation of future land managers.
Picture: Francesco Natta (left) and MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz (right) present the award to Matthias Graf von Westphalen, owner of Land- und Forstbetrieb Rixdorf.