New manager in the “red kite in the rhon” species assistance project

The red kite in the rhon species support project, in which more than 100 volunteers are involved, is one of the most important cross-country species protection projects in the unesco biosphere reserve rhon. The project ends in summer 2020 – until then, heidelinde witzmann is responsible for the project. The hunfelderin has decided on the 1. December the management of julian oymanns took over, it from the rhon in the rhineland.

The red kite project of the rhon regional working group (ARGE), which is supervised by the hessian administration office of the biosphere reserve, was launched in autumn 2014. Julian oymanns took over at the beginning of 2017 from bastian sauer, who had carried out the first mapping of red kite nests in the ARGE rhon project area. At that time, the results showed that there were around 250 breeding pairs of the raptor in the rhon – more than originally assumed.

Nevertheless, the survival of the rhon’s characteristic bird is threatened: the loss of species-rich grassland to agricultural use, the construction of wind turbines, but also animal enemies such as the goshawk are causing problems for the red kite. As part of the species assistance project, the populations are therefore being recorded by mapping and monitoring, the nesting sites are being protected by means of targeted m-takes, and the food habitats are being improved in cooperation with the farmers.

Record numbers achieved

About half a year before the end of the project it is clear: the measures are bearing fruit. "The year 2019, in particular, was very successful", looks back julian oymanns. Mapping with the help of the 120 or so volunteers who received special training as part of the project, and the implementation of agricultural surveys, went very well. Not least because of the weather, 2019 has been a good year for the red kite. "In the total area of about 4900 square kilometers, we have identified a total of 389 pairs of territories, of which more than 80 percent actually breed – these are record values", says oymanns.

It wouldn’t work without volunteers

Despite the measurable successes, oymanns is leaving the company for personal reasons on 31 december. December 2019 the hessian administration. He is drawn back to the rhineland, his home region, where he will start monitoring and recording species at a biological station next year. "The rhon and its red kite have grown on me", says the 31-year-old. His thanks go above all to the volunteer mappers, without whom the implementation of the project would not be possible.

In the time remaining until the 31st. July 2020 oymann’s successor heidelinde witzmann will, among other things, summarize the project results in a final report for the federal office for nature conservation (bfn). "We also want to formulate recommendations based on our experience that we can pass on to farmers," explains witzmann, witzmann explains. The 24-year-old from hunfeld studied environmental management in gieben and most recently worked in environmental education for the state association for the protection of birds in bavaria and brandenburg. "I am looking forward to my new tasks in the rhon and to successfully completing the project together with the volunteers.", says witzmann.


To the project: the species support project "red kite in the rhon" is part of the federal biodiversity program and the biodiversity strategy of the federal republic of germany. The project is supported by the federal agency for nature conservation with funds from the federal ministry for the environment, nature conservation, building and nuclear safety. Around 900,000 euros are available for the entire duration of the project from 2014 to 2020. The area covers some 4900 square kilometers across the flatlands of the counties of bad kissingen, rhon-grabfeld, fulda and the parts of the counties of schmalkalden-meiningen and wartburgkreis to the west of the werra river.

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