Guest author Simone Fust, creator and editor of German online magazine PferdKultur summarizes an excellent project in Germany to preserve and develop biodiversity at equitation yards and to promote environmental sustainability into equestrian people’s perception:
To stop the progressive loss of biological diversity – the habitat diversity, the diversity of plant and animal species and the genetic diversity within species, is one of the biggest environmental challenges of the 21st century.
Sport is operated in a huge variety frequently by means of nature. Particularly this also applies to strong landscape and animal associated sports like horse riding and equestrian sports.
Initiated by the German Equestrian Federation (FN e.V.) a team of environmental experts is working on the project ‘Pferde bewegen – biologische Vielfalt erkunden, erhalten und foerdern’ – ‘move horses – explore biodiversity, preserve and promote’ which was selected by the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) in a nationwide competition held to promote biodiversity aspects in the world of sports.
The FN-project is meant to identify the interfaces between equitation and biodiversity, first to make aware and furthermore to develop tools to promote biodiversity within the equestrian world.
Inspections of equitation- and horse breeding yards serve the nationwide exchange of best practice examples and lead to the so-called ‘biodiversity quick check’ – a catalog of tools which shows concrete and practical solutions to establish biodiversity. Based on this it will be easy to get a quick overview of the potential the own stable embodies to develop biological diversity in a sustainable way for the future.
In early 2015, the results of the project will be made available to the public.
Horse riding businesses of all types and sizes can easily use the ‘biodiversity quick check’ to determine the extent to which biodiversity on the own yard is already available – get ideas on how this can be created in the future, promoted and sustainably developed.
The checklist includes questions and rating factors regarding diverse flora and fauna often found in areas of horse riding and horse keeping. Raising awareness – discussion and inspiration at the beginning of the process followed by practical examples how to install ecofriendly management systems, like planting special hedges, shrubs, installing nest boxes, insect hotels and compost heaps is a very important aspect of the project. Who is aware that unimpregnated wood fences serve birds as a seat and insects as nesting sites?
500 year old state stud in Marbach, Wurttemberg, Germany – not only a well-respected venue for horse breeding, preservation of old breeds but also for equestrian sport events in endurance and eventing disciplines organised close to nature. Marbach is situated in the middle of the UNESCO-Biosphere Reserve Schwabische Alb. The landscape with an old tree population, stable- and administrative buildings built in different periods of time is perfect for a variety of plant and animal species to settle.
In most cases it requires not much to use existing structures or to alter them in a way that a diverse flora and fauna can flourish. Using results of this project, suitable strategies can be individually developed to integrate aspects of biodiversity and sustainability into the everyday barn-life. A successful example of how the growth of biological diversity enriches nature alongside horse breeding and schooling business can be found in the original text in German which also includes many pictures of the fabulous German breeding station Soederhof where international eventing horses grow up in a sustainably rich natural environment. Find the original text here: ‘Online Magazine PferdKultur‘
Text and images: Simone Fust, PferdKultur