Protecting by using – The regional brand "Juradistl", An integrated approach for using and conserving cultural landscapes in the Jurassic landscape of Bavaria (Germany)



  • Landcare Association Neumarkt i.d.OPf.


  • 12/12/2019


  • Western Europe


  • Germany (Bavaria, Upper Palatinate)


  • Due to intensive grazing until the beginning of the 1950s the region of Neumarkt i.d.OPf. in Bavaria has developed a particular cultural landscape with limestone neglected grassland and juniper heaths. Many species have adapted to the mosaic rich landscape and are dependent on its continuing land use. In 2002, the landcare association Neumarkt i.d.OPf. (LCA) and LCAs of three other Bavarian counties developed together a countywide ecological network for the cultural landscape of the Upper Palatinate Jura in order to: • Maintain and optimize biodiversity by an integrative system for sustainable land use. • Secure or link habitats of endangered animal and plants species or to create new habitats. • Increase awareness for biodiversity and nature conservation by project-related publicity, environmental education and low-impact tourism. In order to achieve these goals it was essential to preserve and enhance traditional forms of land use without pesticides and mineral fertilizers based on traditional farming and extensive farming systems that help to maintain the rich diversity of the traditional landscape of this re-gion. But diverse agricultural landscapes can only be preserved in the long-term if there is a market for products elaborated there by sustainable means. The best way to protect is the protection by using. The main idea then was to promote the local products with a distinct label that reflects sus-tainable farming practices. That is why the LCA Neumarkt i.d.OPf. with three other Landcare Associations and with the support of the district government of the Upper Palatinate initiated the implementation and management of regional marketing under the trademark of “Juradistl” in 2004. The regional brand “Juradistl” is now one of the biggest biodiversity projects in southern Ger-many. Until today lamb, grazing cattle, apple juice and honey are marketed under this high-quality, regional and nature conservation brand. Since its first market presence in March 2004, the brand has well established and thus pro-motes local economy and ecology in equal measure. The high demand for Juradistl lamb ensures the maintenance of the shepherds and thereby extremely species-rich neglected grassland can be preserved. At the same time, tourism and local gastronomy benefit from the high quality of Juradistl products.


  • Regional development, landcare, marketing, sustainability, integrated approach


  • Werner Thumann (managing director of LCA Neumarkt i.d.OPf.) and Johanna Bär (LCA Neumarkt i.d.OPf.)

  • LINK


Summary Sheet

The summary sheet for this case study is available here.

Socioeconomic, environmental characteristics of the area

The county of Neumarkt i.d.OPf. is located in the southeast of Germany. The characteristics of the Upper Palatinate landscape are typical Jurassic with limestone nutrient poor grassland and juniper heaths on the steep slopes with river basins and springs in the valleys. Whereas the plateaus lack water due to large karst formations. Like most parts in central Europe it was originally covered by thick forests. But as humans started to settle down they began to cultivate the land and thus influence the landscape. It has traditionally been grazed mainly with sheep or robust adapted herds of cattle often on all-mend pastures. In addition many people cultivated crop, potatoes, fruit orchards and ponds or operated water-mills and dairy farms. Those traditional land uses created and preserved a mosaic rich structure of forests, lime-stone neglected grasslands with juniper heaths and cultivated fields, which represents the characteristics of the Upper Palatinate Jura. The intensive grazing ended around the beginning of the 1950s and many species-rich grass-lands and marginal earning fields have been fallen fallow over the past years or undergone an immense intensification with artificial fertilization. Today the economic power in the district of Neumarkt i.d.OPf. consists mainly of small and medium-sized businesses but agriculture still plays a major role, especially in rural communities.

Figure 1: Juniper heath, characteristic for the Jurassic landscape in the Upper Palatinate (LCA Neumarkt).

Objectives and rationale

The goals of the biodiversity project “Juradistl- biodiversity in the Upper Palatinate Jura” can be summarized as follows: - To maintain and optimize biodiversity by an integrative system for extensive and sus-tainable agriculture. - To safeguard, recreate and interlink habitats of endangered animal and plant species. - To establish a regional marketing of landscape-related nature conservation products. - To increase awareness for biodiversity and nature conservation by project-related publicity, low-impact tourism and environmental education. - To build strategic alliances between land users, consumers and policymakers. - To improve quality of life, regional identification and added value. An essential component to build-up the ecological network is the development of the regional brand “Juradistl” with focus on biodiversity goals. The underlying idea of the regional brand “Juradistl” is the principle “protecting by using”. Since the network of habitats with its rich diversity of species depends heavily on extensive farming systems, the products made thereby should be promoted with a distinct label that reflects sustainable farming practices. Therefore the name of the brand is a combination of the typicial Jurassic landscape of the Upper Palatinate in the region of Neumarkt i.d.OPf. and “Silberdistel” (Silver thistle Carlina acaulis), a flagship species for the limestone neglected grasslands in the area. The brand is intended to make the marketing of products through the recognition value and transparent production criteria easier, and therefore help to make the extensive farming and grazing forms economically attractive again. The central instrument to achieve the mentioned objectives and thus the preservation of bio-logical diversity is to mobilize market forces by developing strategic alliances between land users, processors, consumers and policy makers.

Activities and practices employed

Landcare plays an important part for nature conservation in the district of the Upper Palatinate as well as for preparing the pastures and meadows for sheep and cattle grazing. Landcare contains a variety of measures, such as removal of shrubs from ‘limestone nutrient poor grasslands’ as well as planting of new traditional meadow orchards and hedges that were achieved in cooperation with farmers and shepherds. About 5.5m € were paid for their practi-cal work from 2009 to 2018 funded by a special landcare funding program of the Bavarian state.

Figure 2: Landcare done by local farmers (LCA Neumarkt).

Since the biodiversity project “Juradistl” requires a lot of coordination because of the four project participants and the cross-county concept, an office was commissioned with the project management. This office also provides business advice to farmers and shepherds in matters of environmental support programs of the Bavarian government. These support programs are aimed at achieving an environmental friendly way of extensive farming. As a result of consulting with farmers and shepherds over 2,200 hectares of agricultural land are now farmed using extensive farming methods. Based on these support programs a monetary benefit of approximately 900,000 € was achieved for the region. Assuming an usual 5-year term of environmental sup-port programs, an amount of 4.5m € will be available in the project area to support nature conservation oriented land management. Every farmer, shepherd and producer, who wants to use the “Juradistl”-label is subject to production criteria that guarantee a uniformly high quality of their products and protection of biodiversity and natural livelihoods. For the production of the Juradistl-lamb, these are, for example: - Nature conservation criteria (e.g. at least 50% of grazing areas must be relevant to nature conservation, adapted grazing techniques, herding, extensive stocking density). - Criteria for regional production and health (e.g. Winter feed from the farm or pro-ject area, feed from plant origin, GMO-free feed, specifications on the size and establishment of the barnstable for winter, transparency and documentation). - Product quality (maximum age and meat quality). - Controls and on-the-spot checks by independent institutions. For using the brand, the producers pay a reasonable system fee to the LCA Neumarkt i.d.OPf. as owner of the trademark “Juradistl”. The “Juradistl”- label was launched in 2004 with the marketing of lamb, under the name of “Juradistl-Lamm” (Juradistl-lamb). After the introductory period, which lasted about three years, the slaughter rate for the project stabilized at around 1,000 lambs per year throughout the project area. In 2018 40 hotels and restaurants, 18 butchers with 32 branches participated in the marketing program ”Juradistl-lamb” in the four project counties. The partner companies were supplied from 15 “Juradistl”-shepherds, three of them with their own slaughter facilities. The brand “Juradistl-Weiderind” (Juradistl-grazing cattle) was started in 2011. In 2018 11 hotels and restaurants and 2 butchers were involved in the marketing system for grazing cattle and since the beginning of the project more than 100 cattle have been sold. Since 2018 there are 8 owners of cattle that participate in the “Juradistl”-project. The annual sales have stabilized at about 30 to 40 animals per year.

Figure 3: Juradistl-grazing cattle and “Schnitzel” as recommendation for cooking the beef (Jan Neve, LCA Neumarkt).

The market launch of “Juradistl – Apfelschorle” (Juradistl-apple spritzer) was in summer of 2013. The introduction of traditional meadow orchards was another important success in building strategic alliances for biodiversity under the “Juradistl”-project. The apple spritzer is sold in beverage stores, breweries and in municipal institutions and using these distribution methods the product is presented as "Ambassador for Biodiversity” to the public. The annual sales of the unfiltered apple spritzer have stabilized at around 200,000 liters per year. The market launch of “Juradistl – Honig” (Juradistl-honey) was in October 2018. Meanwhile there are 15 beekeepers taking part in the Juradistl-project, most of them are located in the county Neumarkt i.d.OPf. The Juradistl-honey is sold in 18 shops and is marketed by 6 restaurants.

Figure 4: Juradistl-apple spritzer (LCA Neumarkt).

Figure 5: Market launch of the Juradistl-honey (LCA Neumarkt).

In 2018 the brand and all advertising material as well as the website were redesigned and modernized. These products and efforts are supported by local public relations and environmental ed-ucation - for example at the environmental education and regional development center of the district of Neumarkt, called HAUS AM HABSBERG ( Numerous field trips for kindergarten groups and school classes, guided walking tours for adults, as well as cooking classes with “Juradistl” products are being offered.

Figure 6: Participants of a „Juradistl-lamb“ cooking course (LCA Neumarkt.)

In the course of a year there are additionally marketing campaigns such as a local fruit market or special dinners from local restaurants at Easter and fall.

Figure 7: A local restaurant serves “Juradistl” products (LCA Neumarkt.)

In 2019 several students of a grammar school in Neumarkt i.d.OPf. designed and built a bee house (“Juradistl-Bienenhaus”) as project in an art class. The LCA Neumarkt i.d.OPf., a local bee keeper, a local architect and a company for wood construction supported them in the development process. The next step is to offer the “Juradistl-bee house” as a construction kit for local bee keepers.

Figure 8: The Juradistl-beehouse is located at a golf course (LCA Neumarkt).

Furthermore a map with cycling and hiking trails was developed within the project. At various interactive stations, the “Juradistl-Tour” informs visitors about the biodiversity project. Under the slogan “Juradistl-Experience” landscape viewing platforms reminding of a cinema were recently opened in all four participating counties. Typical elements of the regional landscape can be detected from these platforms, for example the tophills of the Jura Plateau. Some of them are still used as pastures for sheep and kept their special character of lime neglected grasslands with barren rocks.

Figure 9: A station of the “Juradistl-Tour" about rocks and butterflies (LCA Neumarkt).

Figure 10: The “Juradistl”-landscape cinema (LCA Neumarkt).

Public relations and environmental education are tools to raise the awareness for the benefits of “Juradistl”-products. They can also be used to highlight the importance of traditionally grown crops, grazing and of meadow orchards for biodiversity, as well as landscape aesthetics and the preservation of cultural landscapes. In this way, environmental education, tourism and experience of nature support the marketing of local products.

Figure 11: “Juradistl”- brand family - Tourism, environmental education and experience of nature support the marketing of regional products.

In addition to public relations in the vicinity the LCA Neumarkt presented the concept of land-care associations and “Juradistl” to other organisations in Europe with similar premises and problems. During the course of a project from May 2015 to May 2017, the DVL (head of all German Landcare Associations) in cooperation with the LCA Neumarkt i.d.OPf. has assisted the Pogány-havas Association in Romania to implement cooperative nature conservation as best practice for the Harghita County and for other European regions. The project focused on counselling support, including exchange visits to Romania and Germany. In 2019 the LCA Neumarkt i.d.OPf. welcomed participants of the Fireshepherds-project (officials and employees of NGOs from Spain and Portugal who work with shepherds) and presented “Juradistl” as best practice for marketing regional products as a tool to support land-care and nature conservation.

Figure 12: Members of the „Fireshepherds“-project as guests in Neumarkt (LCA Neumarkt).


In the course of the biodiversity-project a network of around 500 hectares of landscape-defining neglected grassland could be developed. This was achieved through a more useful division of pastures as well as by the countywide reorganization of the shepherd territories and the designation of cattle tracks. About 30 hectares of agricultural land were purchased, which are now used according to na-ture conservation regulations and thus contribute to the stabilization of the county wide habitat connectivity. At the same time the project has led to a significant regional economic growth for the project partners including farmers, bee keepers, food producers, larger food processing businesses as well as the hotel and gastronomy sector. In addition, 23 farmers were recruited for extensive use of a total of 120 grazing complexes. Currently, all shepherd territories in the project area are occupied. The added value for these shepherds and cattlemen has been significantly increased by the “Juradistl”-project: more than 16,000 “Juradistl-lambs” have been marketed so far. In addition, ten partner farms have started extensive cattle grazing, eight of which have joined the “Ju-radistl-grazing cattle” - programme and have now marketed more than 150 “Juradistl-grazing cattle”. In addition, several meadow orchards were re-cultivated. This was achieved by the introduction of the “Juradistl apple-spritzer” with a sales volume of currently around 200,000 litres per year. Through about a thousand individual landcare measures numerous biotopes were created and the diversity of habitats as a whole increased. The most important activities include the mow-ing of lean grass, the pruning of bushes, the nursing care on wetland areas and the restoration of cattle tracks for nomadic shepherds. Many farmlands have also concentrated on the protection of species and the preservation of biodiversity. Between 2010 and 2018, more than 1,500 hectares of agricultural land have been turned into extensive farming in the Juradistl-project area by means of agri-environmental measures. The following table provides selected added value effects showing the individual components of the “Juradistl” biodiversity project. Component of the Biodiversity Project Regional economic cycles and effect of added value Landscape management Paid out to farmers and shepherds circa 5.5m € (2009 – 2018) Advice to farmers for optimized use of support programs Monetary benefits for farmers and shep-herds circa 4.5m € (2009 – 2018) Sale of “Juradistl-Lamm” (lamb) Total sales (since 2004): ca. 11m € Sale of “Juradistl-Weiderind” (grazing cattle) Total sales (since 2011): ca. 1.7m € Sale of “Juradistl-Apfelschorle” (apple spritzer) Total sales (since 2013): ca. 1.8m € Sale of “Juradistl-Honig” (honey) Total sales (10/2018-12/2018): 20,000 € Monetary effect since 2004 (including sales of products, funding for landcare measures and agri-environment measures) Circa 24.3m € Success factors of the project are its district-wide approach, the focus on the principle "Protecting by Using", dialogue and consulting, public relations and raising awareness, project management (controlling and coordination), focus on indicator species, public presence and a good image of the brand “Juradistl”. Nevertheless there are still many challenges to face. For example the reduction of extensive land management through the lack of profitability of marginal income sites, the aging of farmers, and the intensive farming on the plateaus. At the moment the sales figures of lamb are decreasing and there is no real identifiable reason why this is so.

Present situation and progression

In addition to the promotion of wild animal and plant species, the preservation and reintroduc-tion of old crops and livestock breeds will also be promoted in the future developments of the project. The involvement of the public is also to be expanded: a wide range of talks, work-shops, guided hikes and field trips is intended to impart environmental knowledge to locals and tourists and to communicate the importance of biodiversity for each individual. The de-velopment and introduction of new products is constantly being worked on in consultation with all project partners.