Conservation concept and landscape design
Even before construction of the airport began, the Erdinger Moos area was already a cultivated landscape used intensively for agriculture, and was in no way an untouched natural area. The Erdinger Moos area and Isar floodplains had lost much of their original appearance decades before initial plans for the airport had been drawn up. Extensive parts of the area had been drained as early as the 19th century before being dried out even due to the construction of canals. Integrating Munich Airport into its environment in the best possible way has been one of the goals of the planning concept right from the start. This is why FMG has created structures to upgrade the environment in the wider area and link the areas together. The concept divides the areas in Erdinger and Freisinger Moos into three zones:
- Zone I: airport premises with runway system, buildings, and roads
Green areas make up almost two thirds of the airport premises and zone I. All areas within the airport that have not been developed or sealed have been designed as high-quality green areas. Furthermore, over 6,000 trees have been planted in areas of the airport accessible to the public. Specialist care and maintenance has led to varied species of vegetation growing on large areas of the airport. This has helped to cultivate high-quality low-nutrient meadows in some areas, which are ecologically much more valuable than the intensively farmed green spaces or arable land beyond the airport fence.
- Zone II: wooded green belt with structural diversity around the airport premises
With its woods, ditches, and meadows, this area around the edge of the airport acts as a buffer for settlements and agriculture, and integrates the airport’s buildings into the surrounding landscape. For instance, more than half of the area around the northern receiving ditch is now home to vegetation that is worthy of protection, such as the Hungarian iris, marsh gladiolus, or fen pondweed.
- Zone III: ecological compensation measures
FMG has now planned and constructed around 374 hectares of compensation areas. The responsible certification bodies (Southern Aviation Office, government of Upper Bavaria, as well as the local («lower») and the regional («higher») nature conservation authorities) have confirmed that sufficient areas have been cultivated and that these are looked after properly. The individual measures serve as a balance for conservation and the appearance of the landscape by creating new structures or improving existing flora and fauna that are worthy of protection. For instance, biotope corridors have been created to link conservation areas, flowing bodies of water, or just natural habitats to one another. The various habitats encourage a high degree of diversity as well as rare species and types of biotope. Special care is given to birds species at risk of extinction, such as the corn bunting, whinchat, and Eurasian curlew, as well as the ornate bluet species of dragonfly.
Total: 1,577 hectares
The airport inside a bird sanctuary
Munich Airport is part of the 4,525-hectare «Nördliches Erdinger Moos» European bird sanctuary, which is home to 40 highly endangered species of bird. The conservation area directly borders the eastern and western ends of the airport premises and also includes the 658 hectares of airport meadow around the runways. It is an important habitat for a number of creatures, particularly rare species of meadow breeders. FMG’s compensation and replacement zones with the two bird sanctuaries «Nördliches Erdinger Moos» and «Freisinger Moos» are not only home to valuable species of birds, but also contain rare species of plant, reptile, dragonfly, and butterfly, such as creeping marshwort, sand lizards, ornate bluets, and the dusky large blue.
Munich Airport protects meadow breeders
The populations of many species of meadow breeder in Bavaria are endangered. Seven of the nine Bavarian species are already at risk of extinction. To nurture and improve the habitats of endangered birds, FMG set up the «Meadow breeder protection in the area around Munich Airport» project in July 2016, receiving specialist support from the Bavarian Ministry of the Environment. The aim of this project is to continue to improve the habitat for meadow breeders in and around the airport. To achieve this goal, up to 50 hectares of land currently used for agriculture will be used to develop and test preventive concepts and measures over the next five years. These will include steps such as nest protection, more extensive cultivation, mowing concepts designed to suit meadow breeders, fencing to protect against predators, and the development of ecological lease agreements with corresponding requirements regarding cultivation.
Hunting as practical nature protection
Conservation, species protection, and bird strike prevention are the focus of hunting activities in the airport area. For instance, fox and marten populations are regulated on the airport meadows in an effort to protect at-risk meadow breeders. FMG is also involved in species preservation for red deer. It owns land in the Isar floodplains, one of Bavaria’s eleven designated areas for red deer. In the past, it has succeeded in safeguarding population areas, ensuring deer continue to be able to move safely, and achieving a compromise between nature protection and hunting interests. In 2016, the airport’s hunting team equipped 400 road markers in the area around the airport’s hunting reserve with wild animal warning reflectors to prevent accidents involving animals. FMG also donated 5,000 euros to the Freising branch of the Bavarian Hunting Organization so that they could purchase further reflectors for animal accident hotspots.
A protected space for butterflies
One of the pioneering projects within the Bavarian Environmental Pact is the airport’s voluntary commitment to protect rare species of moor-based butterflies on Freisinger Moos. Scarce heath butterflies, bog fritillaries, dusky large blues and scarce large blues are the four rare and at-risk species that will enjoy a new, protected habitat in six appropriate areas in the region, covering a total space of five hectares.