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Bavarian State Institute of Forestry
Section Biodiversity, Conservation and Hunting

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Author(s): Editorial office waldwissen.net – LWF
Editorial office: LWF, Germany
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Jewel in the crown: the mountain pine forest

Typical of the mires in Bavaria, but globally a rarity: the mountain pine. Given that this species only exists here, we have a special responsibility to protect Pinus rotundata.

hochwüchsiges Spirkenfilz
Fig. 1: Tall high-growing mountain pine stand on a transitional peat bog (Picture: S. Müller-Kroehling).

The mountain pine (Pinus rotundata) is a real jewel among Bavarian mire species! Worldwide it occurs only in Bavaria and neighbouring areas in Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Saxony. The "Spirkenfilze" pre-Alpine mountain pine bog plant communities Vaccinio uliginosi-Pinetum rotundatae and Carex lasiocarpa-Pinus rotundata are the natural forest cover of many mires in Bavaria - it is only in the Rhön area that they do not occur naturally. Pre-Alpine mountain pine peat bogs may occur as stunted-growth forests or, influenced slightly by mineral soil water, as taller high forests. They do not tend to form a closed canopy. Because of their distinctive character, the Spirkenfilze mountain pine peat bogs have long been recognised by foresters to be something special and worth protecting.

Mountain pine is something special

Many Bavarian mire species also specifically prefer to live in the mountain pine peat bogs, e.g. the ground beetle Carabus menetriesi pacholei Sokolar or the Nordic water beetle Agabus wasastjernae. The latter settles in the small, permanently cold "mountain pine holes" that are created when a mountain pine falls over and its root plate is pulled out.

Allelopathy

The mountain pine is the only native tree species that can grow with the raised peat bog. Towards the centre of the mire, its growth is increasingly concentrated on small favourable spots, however. Intact and near-natural mountain pine peat bogs have a sparse canopy. This is because of a natural forest dynamic created by the frequent breaking and falling of trees, and including their infestation with various different species of bark beetle. What also contributes to the sparse canopy are the allelopathic effects of the dwarf shrubs (e.g. bog bilberries) in the undergrowth. There are thus hardly any mountain pine stands with a lot of shade.

Protection of the mountain pine

Since the repeal of the Bavarian Nature Protection Amendment Act, the mountain pine as a species has no longer been subject to any special protection. Because of its significance, the threat to it and its small area of dissemination worldwide, it would certainly be desirable to have it included in the list of species for which Germany has special responsibility. Peat bogs dominated by mountain pine as a forest type are already protected habitats in Germany. As a priority habitat of sub-type *91D3, they also enjoy the protection of the statutory FFH directive ban on deterioration in FFH areas.

Any clear-cutting of mountain pine-dominated peat bogs should certainly be avoided. This also applies when light-loving mire species are to be promoted, such as the moorland clouded yellow butterfly (Colias palaeno), which feeds on the bog bilberry. For this butterfly, the key thing is in fact whether there is sufficient moisture where the bog bilberry is growing. Habitats offering the adult butterflies sources of nectar in the nearby, species-rich wet meadows on the edges of the mire should also be maintained or restored. The entire mire benefits in many different ways from this.

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