Grassland communities and here in particular the calcareous grasslands and wet meadows on calcareous-rich groundwater moorland sites are considered the plant communities which are the richest in species in the Central European cultural landscape. In addition to their agricultural value, they also have immense value in terms of their ecosystem services and landscape ecological functions, ranging from carbon storage through humus enrichment to feeding habitats for pollinators. The value of ecosystem services depends on both biodiversity and the age and continuity of grassland use.
The model and demonstration project "Identification and conservation of historically old grasslands", which terminated at the end of 2019, developed criteria and standards for the identification and conservation of historical grassland using the example of two grassland dominated natural areas in southwestern Germany (Swabian Alb and southern Alpine foothills). Based on these criteria, a donor area register for the conservation of historic grasslands was established. These grassland areas though do not only serve for the production of regional grassland seeds, but also harbour species important for plant breeding. Grass species relevant for breeding, which were collected during the project on these areas are conserved in the Federal Genebank at the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK).
Over 20 of the selected grassland areas have been recommended to designate as genetic reserves. Their designation and integration as regional grassland network into the German Network of Genetic Reserves is in preparation.