In Saxony-Anhalt, central Germany, the picturesque valleys have a particularly sunny and dry microclimate and soils full of nutrients, which makes them the ideal place to grow grapes. Local farmers have been perfecting viticulture for centuries and now produce over 70 different types of wine.
Yet, in recent years, climate change has been taking its toll. Extreme weather, from droughts to torrential rainfall, coupled with rising temperatures, is having a big impact on the local environment, and on the already sensitive processes of wine making. That’s why, in 2016, the LIFE VinEcoS project was launched. The purpose was to test whether vineyards could better cope with climate change and extreme weather if the biodiversity of the area increased.
And the results proved just that. Wild seeds were sowed on the steep slopes of the vineyards, boosting numbers of plant species, and sheep were allowed to graze between the vines. Together, this helped reduce soil erosion – especially after heavy rainfall – and retain more water in the ground to prevent vines drying out. Allowing nature to flourish also meant that wild bee numbers increased by 200% – boosting pollination levels.
The project serves as an example to other vineyards struggling with climate change-induced threats. If we reduce monoculture, nature can become more resilient and have a chance at adapting to this new climate reality. Not to mention that the project helped maintain over 1,000 local jobs in the winemaking sector, too!
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