At DB, Heck cattle and bison fulfil the official role of landscape gardeners. This rare and robust breed of cattle consumes some 50 kilograms of grass a day. We have given them not only the permission but the official mission to do this. Because both of them provide new habitats for rare plants and animals to compensate for unavoidable disturbance to the environment at other locations.
Together with some Przewalski's horses, about a dozen Heck cattle help DB ensure optimal grazing of green spaces at a natural heritage site in Aschaffenburg. By preventing the growth of trees and shrubs, they help to preserve important habitats for other types of plants and animals.
And so the Heck cattle do something not only for the environment, but also for the visitors to the nature trail on this former army training area. They are a special attraction. Descended from the aurochs, which has been extinct since the 17th century, today only a few of these longhorn cattle remain worldwide.
European bison become woodland caretakers
A herd of wisent has moved into the specially protected forest area on a former munitions factory site near Münster in Hesse. European bison are the last surviving species of wild cattle and are themselves endangered. Wisents graze on wooded land, which makes them expert at ensuring that the open spaces on the 250-hectare, predominantly forested area do not become overgrown with bushes. Weighing up to 1000 kg, European bison enrich their diet of wild herbs, grass and moss with such delicacies as twigs, leaves and lichen.
The area on the former MUNA munitions factory site is a Deutsche Bahn environmental restoration activity to compensate for rail upgrade projects in the Rhine-Main metropolitan area.
Wisentwald nature discovery trail
Since October 2023, bison can be marveled at in the new Wisentwald nature discovery trail, which is unique in Germany. The 1.5-kilometer-long trail offers exciting insights into the biological diversity on site at various stations and provides information about the forest ecosystem. From a barefoot trail to a viewing platform with panoramic views of bison and Przewalski's horses to graffiti artwork in 3D look on the walls of the old bunkers: the nature trail offers diverse and fun activities for the whole family. Together with the Federal Real Estate Agency and the municipality of Münster (Hesse), we are thus creating a special nature and learning site and further contributing to the ecological balance of the new expansion route.