The Airport is situated on the north-west edge of the heath landscape Wahner Heide, an impressive nature reserve and bird sanctuary. The Airport grounds take up some 20 percent of the 5,000 hectares of this landscape. Wahner Heide is a habitat for more than 700 rare or even endangered species of flora and fauna.
Alongside the sheep, Glan cattle and goats, some hundred listed bird species, such as the stonechat, the red-backed shrike or the wood lark, live here. Unlike natural landscapes, where nature is left to its own accord, the cultivated – as the word says - heath landscape has to be cared for.
In the past few years, the Airport has invested 10 million euros in Wahner Heide. As early as 1997, the Airport made a 30-year commitment to compensate its extension work by undertaking cultivation measures in the heath. Thus, the population of many endangered and protected animal and plant species could be stabilised and even extended.
In cooperation with all the responsible authorities, the armed forces, the Federal Institute for Real Estate Management (BIMA) and the Federal Forestry Commission, the Airport has four major conservation projects with support from the appropriate scientific experts:
- Glan cattle (an old farm animal species) grazing on the northern part of the heath. 400 goats also help to keep the vegetation down.
- Sheep grazing on the southern heath - Aggeraue, Tongrube Altenrath and Altenrather Wiesen
- Renaturization of Hirzenbach Moor as a major single project
- Caring for and protecting the damp moorland in the southern part of Wahner Heide.
These compensatory measures are a particularly positive example of how private sector commitment can help to safeguard valuable natural cultivated landscapes for future generations on a long-term basis.