GC Spessart: Pioneer in the topic of biodiversity
When it comes to the topics of biodiversity and species protection, a small smile runs across the faces of Peter Buch and Markus Adrian. As vice president and head greenkeeper, these topics accompany the two on every visit to the golf course, which belongs to the Hessian Golf Association. The Golf -Club Spessart was one of the pioneers in Germany when the environmental certification Golf & Nature was still in its infancy. “We had a lot of biodiversity projects being implemented on our site back then,” Buch recalls. In 2001 the club received the Gold certificate from Golf and Nature. Participation in the Golf Course Habitat initiative, which the Hessian Golf Association launched in 2022 together with the Hessian Ministry of the Environment, was thus a matter of course.
More than 20 years have passed since the first certification. Two decades in which the topic of species conservation has continued to be pursued intensively at GC Spessart and a large number of projects have been implemented. Some golfers may not be aware of the importance of the peatland on the golf course. In fact, however, it is precisely the preservation of these areas that is important due to the extreme CO₂ storage of peatlands and their enormous biodiversity. The regular de-bushing of the area helps to keep it wet. The fact that springs from the upper part of the square push into this area provides constant moisture.
When it comes to water, the GC Spessart has done positive things in several areas anyway. Not only visually pretty, but also ecologically useful, are the shallow water areas at various ponds and small streams. If you look quietly, you will see not only the tadpoles in the water, but also the dragonflies buzzing across the surface. With a total of ten ponds in the meantime, the plant is also not concerned with the issue of water scarcity. The youngest storage pond with a filling volume of 15,000 m³ was only established in 2020 at hole 14. Since then, Adrian says with satisfaction, they are actually sure that they have the irrigation of the course under control.
The club has prescribed itself water-saving greenkeeping anyway. Since 2014, integrated crop protection has also played a prominent role. Herbicides and fungicides are only used in absolute emergencies, otherwise Adrian relies more on mechanical measures and clever solutions. “We put the cutting height of the greens up a bit to promote the health of the grasses, but by purchasing an ironing machine and rollers, we were still able to maintain the same quality,” he explains with satisfaction.
The factor of nature plays an essential role for the members of the GC Spessart in experiencing the sport of golf. Whoever turns his rounds here, in the unspoiled area with a view over the Kinzig valley, Vogelsberg, Taunus and Spessart, will experience flower meadows, wetlands, but above all a strikingly large bird population.
As a habitat, the golf course with its numerous lush hedgerows is ideal for numerous species. Since March 2022, the golf course has maintained a cooperation with the Schlüchtern Ecological Research Station. In cooperation with the biologist Dr. Karl-Heinz Schmidt, nesting boxes were installed that have different sized entrance diameters. 50 new dwellings were created in this way, in which, in addition to the birds, lacewing, earwig and the Gallic wasp have also moved in. Incidentally, they are also part of the strategy for integrated pest management – their area of application is the orchards on the site.