When it comes to climate protection in Bavaria, the moors are of outstanding importance. That’s not just what experts say. But also Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU). “Moors are often underestimated CO₂ storage units”, Söder emphasized in his government declaration on climate protection in July. “They have an enormous effect, which is the equivalent of twice as much as forest.” And that is why Söder has announced “one of the largest renaturation programs in Germany for the rehabilitation and rewetting of 55,000 hectares of moorland” for Bavaria.
In local politics, however, Söder’s words about the importance of the moors have not yet reached the local level. That’s what Kerstin Merkel from Nassenfels says. The art historian and honorary professor at the Catholic University of Eichstätt is chair of the “Pro Schuttermoor” association. She is fighting against the plans of her home community to build a new sports field on the outskirts – on intact peatland. “Dealing with the Schuttermoor stunned me,” says Merkel. “Our local politicians don’t see the value of their homeland.”
Nassenfels is a rural community with a good 2200 inhabitants. It is located about 15 kilometers west of Ingolstadt in the Eichstätt district in the Urdonautal. Today the Schutter flows past Nassenfels, the river flows into the Danube in Ingolstadt, where it partly runs underground. Archaeological finds show that the region was inhabited as early as the Stone Age. Nassenfels itself goes back to the time of the Romans. They founded a fort there around 90 AD. Today’s townscape is shaped by the ruins of a mighty castle, the origins of which go back to the eleventh century. The Schuttertal is an important and largely intact moor. Numerous rare animal and plant species live there. The so-called watering wells are a specialty. These are strong karst springs that come to the surface near Nassenfels in the Schuttermoos and form bluish shimmering spring ponds there.
Now Nassenfels wants to build a new sports field on the eastern outskirts near the Schutter and the castle ruins. Two soccer fields, a community center and around 120 parking spaces are planned. In total, the new facility is to extend over 2.6 hectares of previously free landscape. The approval process is ongoing. If everything goes well, the mayor of Nassenfels, Thomas Hollinger (CSU), expects the building permit to be granted next year.
Hollinger defends the plans. They have been carefully weighed and should not only emphasize one aspect. The old sports fields are in the water protection area, they have to be relocated. Otherwise the sports club, FC Nassenfels, would have no future. The facility must be easily accessible. The location near the Schutter is also good because it is at ground level and does not have to be dug up or heaped up. In addition, the bog soil there is “not our most valuable moss” – but in the middle of the core area of the Schuttermoos a compensation area more than twice as large is being renatured. In general, says Hollinger, not only FC Nassenfels is committed to the plans. But also the majority of the Nassenfelsers, at least as far as he could judge.
Merkel, who has lived in Nassenfels for 20 years and is currently in China, calls this “denial of knowledge”. In the meantime, anyone who gets information should be aware of how important moors are for climate protection, she says. “That’s why you shouldn’t destroy an intact piece of bog, especially not because you expect short-term benefits from it.” From their point of view, the Nassenfelser sports ground plans are a typical example of the failure of local politics. “Here in the region, the moor has always been unloved and worthless; it has been drained for centuries,” she says. “Its beauty, its unspoiled nature and its importance for climate protection do not count.” She is particularly disappointed that higher-ranking CSU politicians – the members of the state parliament and the member of the Bundestag, for example – stayed out of the dispute. Nevertheless, Merkel does not want to give up. In the state parliament there are several petitions from the environment of your association “Pro Schuttermoos”. In addition, a referendum has been prepared.