An animal residential community arises in Crawinkel

Source: Thüringer Allgemeine (December 19th, 2018), by Franziska Gräfenhan,


An old transformer house becomes a habitat for ten different animal species. Barn owl, kestrel and bat live here under one roof and still leave each other in peace.

Where barn owl and kestrel soon say good night to each other: On the outskirts of Crawinkel, the first species protection tower in the district of Gotha was inaugurated on Tuesday. It is to offer place in the future to an animal residential community. In addition to many bird species, bats and insects will also find a new home in the old transformer house.

The old tower thus has a new function. It provides a protected habitat for animal species that are sometimes highly endangered and is intended to increase biodiversity on the outskirts of the village in the long term. "Breeding birds such as the barn owl or the kestrel will find an excellent place to nest here," explained Ronald Bellstedt, chairman of the Gotha district association of the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (Nabu). These animals prefer high, solitary structures to keep an eye on their territory and prey. But smaller bird species such as swifts, redstarts and wagtails also find shelter in the transformer house. "Swifts need a certain drop height for their offspring," Bellstedt explained.

He noted that the species protection tower is not just for birds, however. Native bat species, including the greater evening bat and the brown long-eared bat, also use towers like this one to build their nests, as they are protected here from frost in winter, among other things.

Ten animal species find space in the transformer house.

In addition, two insect hotels on the south side provide a habitat for smaller creatures, such as the wild bee. "The bees, in turn, make an important contribution to pollinating the meadow orchard," Bellstedt said, explaining the project's effect on plant life.

The coexistence of up to ten different animal species in a tower is usually not a problem, the conservationist continued. "There is actually peace at the breeding site." In addition, he said, the species that find ideal conditions for nesting here have been deliberately selected. Even if no animal has moved in so far - a few sparrows had already allowed themselves a visit - , the Nabu chairman was pleased, like all the other participants, about the successful implementation of the long-planned project.

"The idea of a species protection tower based on the East Thuringian model came up as early as 2012," said Petra Schache from the Lower Nature Conservation Authority, for example. Together with her colleague Birgit Hölzer, she tackled the project at the time, which was to be implemented in an old transformer house belonging to Thüringer Energienetze GmbH (TEN).

But the way there turned out to be difficult, according to Schache, not least because the tower was located on private property. Almost two years passed before the municipality of Crawinkel bought the transformer house from TEN.

Six years passed until the tower was rebuilt.

The idea met with great approval from the community right from the start, recalls Stefan Schambach (SPD), who was a member of the local council at the time and will be responsible for preserving the tower in the Crawinkel district as mayor of Ohrdruf from January. In 2016, the transformers were finally dismantled and the keys to the building were handed over to the municipality. The latter is now responsible for the maintenance and management of the species protection tower.

In 2018, the energy service provider Boreas Energie GmbH, together with Nabu, took care of equipping the species protection tower, which serves to compensate for wind turbines in Wangenheim and Hochheim. The conversion of the old masonry into a comfortable animal commune cost a total of 10,000 euros. Susanne Löw was responsible for the design on behalf of Boreas Energie GmbH. She worked closely with master carpenter Benjamin Brand, especially on the interior of the tower. He made suspended ceilings, stairs with railings and various wooden nesting boxes. On the outside of the tower, an information board also provides an overview of the animal inhabitants.

"We will also offer guided tours for schools and interested citizens in the future," said Susanne Löw. In addition, the conservation youth is planning various projects at the species protection tower, Bellstedt added. Two to three times a year, Nabu, which is responsible for controlling its use, will check on the structure and its inhabitants, he added. Bellstedt hopes, "It would be nice if this tower is just the beginning for many species protection towers in the county."

Petra Schache replied that two other old transformer houses in Schwarzhausen were already being looked at.

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