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European Climate Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency
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LIFE helps German winegrowing region adapt to climate change 

The team behind LIFE Award-winning LIFE VinEcos boosted biodiversity on vineyards in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, making them more climate-resilient. 

LIFE15 CCA/DE/000103
LIFE15 CCA/DE/000103/Jens Eckner. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions

With its sunny and dry micro-climate, Saale-Unstrut in Saxony-Anhalt is one of Germany’s most important winegrowing regions. However, climate change is taking its toll, with winegrowers increasingly facing drought, heavy rainfall and winter windstorms. This leads to soil erosion and water stress at the vineyards, hampering production. 

LIFE VinEcoS introduced several measures to help the state winery Kloser Pforta and other commercial vineyards across the region better cope with climate change. 

The team added wild seed mixtures to steep slopes, reducing soil erosion and water stress. Results show that plant species increased considerably compared to conventional plots. Also, the number of bee species rose by 200%, while butterfly species were up by 50%. 

The introduction of sheep grazing has led to a 25% reduction in the number of hours working with machinery per hectare. In addition, the combination of grazing and new seed mixtures increased vegetation cover, preventing soil from being washed down hillsides after heavy rainfall. 

The team developed a toolset to evaluate ecosystem services in vineyards. This allows winegrowers to establish numbers of flowering pollen and nectar plants, butterflies, hoverflies, and wild bees, as well as different soil parameters. This information is invaluable for other winegrowers in the region and beyond who also want to adopt a similar approach. 

Overall, the project helped maintain around 1 000 jobs in the winemaking sector and gave other vineyards the tools to better adapt to climate change. 

LIFE VinEcoS recently won this year’s LIFE Award for Climate Action

Asked about winning the prize, project coordinator Lydia Hohlstein said: ‘We are so grateful to receive this award because it shows our project partners how important their work was and still is. It also highlights the importance of biodiversity for the viticulture ecosystem and the resilience of the vineyards.’ 

LIFE VinEcoS supports the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change and the EU Biodiversity strategy for 2030