Columns of biodiversity: Audi Environmental Foundation supports a sustainable project for species protection

As part of the environmental project Steles of Biodiversity, old transformer houses are being transformed into new habitats for native animal species. In this way, environmental education sites are created that bring biodiversity and species diversity closer to the visitor.

07/30/2015 Reading Time: 4 min

In the nationwide-designed environmental project, disused transformer substations will be converted sustainable in stages to “Columns of Biodiversity”. For this purpose, valuable habitats and breeding spaces are created on the buildings for regionally specific (main) wildlife species. By way of example, a particular highlight is a newly developed bat thermal chamber, which provides a valuable refuge for these animals.

Environmental project transformer substation - art meets sustainability

To sensitize the public or passers-by to the topic of biodiversity and species protection, the transformer substations have been painted with mostly oversized animal and plant graphics. This is intended to arouse curiosity to get to know the environmental education project better and learn more about the biodiversity of the local fauna.

Modern Technology and Environmental Education

Where possible, the former transformer towers are equipped with modern technology, which supports an up-to-date information transfer. “People”  today and future generations, in particular, are becoming more and more removed from nature. The names of the life forms that accompany us and their requirements in terms of their habitats are barely known.

 

It is also for this reason that, in terms of project content, great emphasis was placed on introducing educational programs, such as those for kindergartens, into the project from the start. Through play, children learn why it is worthwhile to get involved with nature.

Sharing joint responsibility for a more visible species protection and environmental education

Working together, the project partners “Artenschutz in Franken®” (Association for Species Protection in Franconia) and Audi Environmental Foundation developed the idea of creating “beacons” for species protection all over Germany. Besides concrete species protection, the aim of the project is to also reach as many people as possible outside of education centers about this important topic.

 

The pilot phase started in 2014 with three selected transformer towers in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Thüringen. These were extensively redesigned with the technical guidance of the purely voluntary organization, “Artenschutz in Franken®”. Last but not least, the enthusiasm of the project partners on site has contributed to the successful completion of the pilot phase of Columns of Biodiversity and to giving the starting signal to the selection of other suitable objectives. The website https://www.stele-biodiversitaet.de/ gives an overview of this innovative environmental project, provides information on the locations yet to be explored and aims to encourage similar ideas and concepts based on the model of the Columns of Biodiversity to be addressed, thus providing a further contribution to the preservation of biodiversity. Many projects were awarded as projects of the UN Decade of Biodiversity.

The exemplary character of this project is underlined by the fact that it has been designated a project of the UN Decade of Biodiversity.
The exemplary character of this project is underlined by the fact that it has been designated a project of the UN Decade of Biodiversity.

Locations

Species-protecting tower in the castle town of Kastellaun, Germany

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Species-protecting tower in the castle town of Kastellaun, Germany

Official presentation and handing over of the Column of Biodiversity


The former transformer substation “In den Bergbitzen” (In the Bitzen hill) in Kastellaun, which was converted in the summer to a “Column of Biodiversity”, was officially handed over on October 24th, 2016. Since 2014, the project partners Verband Artenschutz in Franken® (Association for Species Protection in Franconia) and the Audi Environmental Foundation have been gradually creating “Beacons of Biodiversity”, in addition to their concrete species protection activities, thus providing environmental education material that can be experienced. The pilot phase began in 2014 with the conversion of three transformer substations in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Thüringen.

This year the project has now been successfully carried forward, by converting the former transformer substation in Kastellaun to the “Wild Bees Tower”. Wild bees and bats have already moved into the new environmental education station and a kestrel has already inspected the building, which will become its new home. The St. Helena Kastellaun Catholic Kindergarten has adopted the “Wild Bees Tower”.

Species protection project in Ittlingen, Germany

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Species protection project in Ittlingen, Germany

New habitat for endangered animal species
 

The Audi Environmental Foundation inaugurated a transformer substation for endangered animal species in Ittlingen, near Heilbronn, on 24th October, 2015. As part of the “Columns of Biodiversity” project, the Foundation in collaboration with the Association for Species Protection in Franconia have completed buildings in recent months - in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Thüringen.  In addition to concrete species protection, environmental education is also a focus of the project. The aim is, with non-profit institutions, to familiarize people in their own neighborhood with local nature and to generate enthusiasm for the preservation of biodiversity. In Ittlingen, the Audi Environmental Foundation is working together with the St. Thomas Association and the Community Family Center. In the nationwide project, the Foundation has so far converted three former transformer substations in Ittlingen, Suhl and Bad Staffelstein to provide valuable living spaces for many animal species, some of which are endangered. In Ittlingen. which lies in the upper valley of the River Elsenz, these are predominantly pipistrelle bats, barn owls and little owls. To draw the attention of visitors and walkers to environmental protection, the artist Michael Horn has painted the converted transformer tower with large-scale animal and plant motifs. An information board provides information on the project and the animal species, for which it provides shelter. A flyer provides an overview of the environmental project and the three “Columns of Biodiversity”. QR codes can be used to download a virtual tour with comprehensive information on the species protection project. In Suhl und Bad Staffelstein, interested people can also obtain information via multimedia sources, e.g. by observing animals via webcams.

Species-protecting tower in Bad Staffelstein

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Species-protecting tower in Bad Staffelstein

New quarters for animals in the transformer substation
 

In 2015, Audi Environmental Foundation GmbH inaugurated the first “Column of Biodiversity” at the Vierzehnheiligen (Fourteen Holy Helpers) pilgrimage site at Bad Staffelstein. An old transformer substation has been painted with colorful animals and plants by the artist/nature painter Michael Horn and converted to provide living space for endangered animal species.  The aim of the paintings is to attract the attention of walkers to species protection. Information boards provide information on the characteristics, habits and protection status of the endangered species. Endangered animal species, such as the barn owl, greater mouse-eared bat and European orchard bee, should find shelter in the now-completed tower.

Species protection in Suhl

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Species protection in Suhl

New living space inside and on the exterior of the transformer substation



Together with the city of Suhl, Audi Environmental Foundation GmbH inaugurated a converted transformer substation for endangered animal species on August 26th, 2015. It is the second building that the Environmental Foundation has completed as part of this species protection project. In addition to species protection, environmental education is also a focus of the project. With the installation of webcams, it will be possible to also reach the smartphone and tablet generation and fascinate and inspire them for the preservation of biodiversity and familiarize them with local nature in their own locality. An on-site multimedia information board explains the project to passers-by and is linked to the live stream, which shows life inside the transformer tower.
 

The little tower in Suhl/Dietzhausen is one of three buildings in the pilot phase of this project in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Thüringen. It has been extensively redesigned with the technical guidance of the Association for Species Protection in Franconia. The special secondary habitats installed in the facade act as a high-quality living space, above all for the house martin, Nathusius’ pipistrelle or the wild bee. Special features of the Thüringen project location: As well as the tower, the external area around it was also converted to simulate conditions found in nature, in order to create further habitats, such as for native birds, reptiles or small mammals. In addition, the course of a nearby stream was improved and a wild-flower meadow was created. A symbolic retained power pole is a reminder of the previous use of the tower and, at the same time, serves as a raised hide for birds - something that is often missing for the animals.

Schönau Wild-bee Wall

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Schönau Wild-bee Wall

Modern species protection and living environmental education


Young environmentalists become acquainted with the living space of wild bees. The Audi Environmental Foundation supports the construction of a wild-bee wall for the preservation of the insect species in a kindergarten in Schönau am Königssee.
 

People are dependent on the pollination of crops - here bees play an important role and thus ensure the survival of many wild plants. As a result of increasing industrial land management, many species of wild bees are on the verge of extinction.
 

The wall, which is made of different materials, serves as living space for the insects and also provides information on different wild-bee species in pictures and words. The young environmentalists learn, locally in their own neighborhood, to develop respect and consideration for wildlife. Furthermore, the wild-bee wall will be an environmental education project and study subject for species protection in the years to come.