Politicians support golf when it comes to biodiversity

Top meeting in terms of promoting biodiversity: At the ceremony in the St. Leon-Rot Golf Club in Baden-Württemberg to mark 25 years of commitment to biodiversity and nature conservation on the 45-hole course, it became clear how much politics and sport are now cooperating on this topic. “We can no longer ignore any population group when it comes to biodiversity. There are no more sectoral borders. We all have to work together,” summarized the State Secretary in the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Environment, Dr. André Baumann , who in this context also highlighted the successful cooperation with the Baden-Württemberg Golf Association as part of the golf course habitat project.

550 children in the club experience nature up close

For the GC St. Leon-Rot, according to club president Daniel Hopp , the integration of the topic of nature conservation was a must from the very beginning of the course, in order to increase the acceptance of the surrounding communities, non-golfers and the authorities and to dimantle the initial skepticism towards the golf course. In the meantime, he concludes, “an incredible amount has been created here that documents the symbiosis between golf and nature.” A monitoring of the biodiversity, which was carried out with a view to the 25th anniversary, shows over 1000 different plant and insect species on the plant. “The 550 children who are in our youth development program” experience nature up close and are taught how to deal with it,” stated Hopp.

Challenges for clubs are growing

A challenge that doesn’t get any easier for golfers, golf clubs and golf courses, as greenkeeper Karsten List , who is responsible for the topic of environment and nature at GC St. Leon-Rot, put it. “The effects of climate change are becoming more evident on the golf course and we don’t have a set roadmap.”

The solution to the problems, according to Dr. Josef Tumbrinck , head of the nature conservation department in the Federal Ministry for the Environment , is also supported by quality management certificates such as the Golf & Nature program of the German Golf Association. The participation rate is very high in Baden-Württemberg, but not in North Rhine-Westphalia, for example. “Of course, many clubs in Germany are taking part, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement and I really don’t see why not everyone is involved.”

Use more potential

In this way, according to his colleague Thomas Graner, central and department head at the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, every golf course ultimately increases its own acceptance among members, authorities and the public. According to Graner, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation continues to support the program strongly. “We will not save nature if we only work in the nature reserves. We must use all potential to promote biodiversity on all areas used.” Sports areas are part of it.

The golf courses, according to Dr. Gunther Hardt, head of the Biodiversity working group at the German Golf Association , had started the cooperation with the founding of Golf & Nature program from the confrontation with nature conservation associations in 2005. Biodiversity is now an important issue on almost every golf course.

GC St. Leon-Rot: “We’re staying tuned”

A point that Otto Leibfritz, President of the Baden-Württemberg Golf Association , underlined. “Since 2019, we have invested an enormous amount of energy, time and money into the topic of biodiversity because we and our members recognize the future importance. An event like this shows once again how important cooperation between politics, environmental protection associations, the municipalities and golf is.”

In the St. Leon-Rot Golf Club, according to Managing Director Eicko Schulz-Haßen , the fascination with nature conservation continues unabated. From the renaturation of the Kraichbach to the settlement of storks to the care of extensive areas with a flock of sheep – promoting biodiversity is diverse, exciting and important. “We just stay on the topic.”