Wetland in Göttingen

An Ecologically Diverse Biotope

In an initiative launched by Sartorius and in cooperation with the Heinz Sielmann Foundation and the city of Göttingen, a diverse wetland is being created on a 16 hectare tract located along the Leine River. Most of the area developed in the project was once heavily farmed.

The Leine River divides the location into two equal parts, parcels of land that have evolved into an ecologically diverse haven for rare and endangered animals like amphibians and birds. A wide array of steps was taken to create this natural paradise. They included the development of a softwood alluvial forest, flood channels, hollows, and depressions as elements of floodplain relief as well as the addition of a number of shallow pools, standing bodies of water and extensive grasslands. An observation tower and an explorers’ trail were developed for visitors to the area. River bank reinforcements were removed from selected areas to enable the river to flow more naturally.

Sartorius financed the entire project’s cost of more than €1 million.

Map of the Area

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Areas of the Wetland

Shallow water ponds are bodies of water that are not deep. Amphibians feel right at home in them thanks to the fluctuating levels of water that occur in these pools. The prevailing conditions of wet and dry create the perfect habitat for amphibians. Flora and fauna have adapted perfectly to the fluctuating water levels of the respective seasons. To settle in such a place, amphibians need something else as well: extensive grasslands to which no fertilizer has been applied. It is the exact conditions that the biotope offers. Another important aspect of this habitat is the opportunity to seek refuge back on land.

Water does not flow into and out of these shallow ponds. Sunlight reaches all the way to the bottom, creating the conditions that green plants need to grow and that a range of aquatic animals need to live. Amphibians benefit from the conditions as well, as evidenced by their habit of laying their spawn in the shallow bodies of water. Sunlight also facilitates the development of larvae. But they have to watch out for hungry fish that prowl the area.

Alluvial forests are found in the floodplains of bodies of flowing water and are located directly along the banks of streams and rivers. Shaped by the movement and power of the water, they provide a habitat for the widest range of flora and fauna. Softwood trees near rivers — in particular willows, alders and poplars — grow extremely fast. As a result of river regulation, softwood floodplains are increasingly turning into hardwood floodplains with shorter flooding periods. The objective of the project area is to create a natural forest whose developmental phases from young forest to decomposition are closely aligned. If a tree dies, it is allowed to remain standing or to lie on the ground as dead wood. The development of alluvial forests promotes biodiversity.

Extensive grasslands facilitate sustainable uses while providing a way to unwind and experience the world. They also do an excellent job in helping protect groundwater. Their role in nature sanctuaries is primarily to provide a habitat and a place to procreate for ground-breeding birds. These areas also provide cranes with a source of food, and rabbits and deer with a place to graze.

The flood channels created in the biotope are occasionally filled with water during high tides. The flooded hollows serve as an ideal spawn and growth area for endangered fish species in the floodplains. Young fish make their way to the river as the water recedes. A wide range of plants typically seen in a floodplain will appear depending on the length of time that the area was flooded.

The biotope has to meet two seemingly contradictory needs: It must provide nature with the tranquility that such a sanctuary requires and give people an opportunity to experience this world for themselves. The biotope achieves both with the observation tower that has been erected on the western edge of the area and with a boardwalk that is part of the eastern explorers’ trail. The official trails immerse visitors in the biotope without disturbing the world of animals.

The biotope includes an explorers’ trail that enables visitors to experience the wonders of the biotope to the greatest degree possible while still respecting the needs of the flora and fauna that make their homes there. It provides visitors with direct insights into the life of the area. Dogs on a leash are welcome, too.

Progress Since Project Start

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August 2021 | The original state of Flüthewehr | A view from the south
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August 2021 | Groundbreaking for the biotope
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September 2021 | Excavators excavate hollows | View toward the southeast
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September 2021 | The area is taking shape: The forms of the individual elements are already recognizable
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September 2021 | Overview of the entire area from the north
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April 2022 | Birds resting in the area
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April 2022 | Water stands in the hollows, flood channels and ponds
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June 2022 | The biotope is blooming and thriving
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July 2022 | Official celebration of the opening of the biotope
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July 2022 | The biotope is officially opened
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July 2022 | Start to a guided tour through the biotope
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July 2022 | A group of visitors on their way to the observation tower

Who Moves Into the Wetland?

Dusky large blue (Maculinea nausithous)

The development of this rare butterfly is closely tied to the occurrence of the great burnet and Myrmicinae ants. Careful grazing creates ideal conditions for both of them. The butterfly lets the ants transport its larvae to the ants’ nests where the caterpillars can later feast on the ants’ own larvae.

Beaver (Castor fiber)

Beavers play a key role in the water landscape. They actively develop their surroundings by building dams, creating a wide range of tiny habitats and fostering biodiversity in the process. By the mid-20th century, beavers were nearly extinct in central Europe, the victim of intensive hunting. With the help of strict protective measures, beavers have slowly, but surely, recaptured their territory.

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

The biotope provides the common kingfisher with the ideal habitat that the bird needs to thrive. The birds like to use the branches and roots of fallen trees as a lookout perch near water. Their main sources of food are fish, tadpoles and insect larvae. Common kingfishers also have a special feature: Their feathers hardly become wet at all when the birds dive like bolts of lightning into the water.

Grass frog (Rana temporaria)

The biotope provides grass frogs with the shallow spawn water that they like so much. They lay spawn balls containing about 100 eggs there from mid-March to mid-April. It is the time when the loud of “growl” of the frog choir reaches a crescendo. Many of the animals spend the winter in the water.

Broad-bodied chaser (Libellula depressa)

This dragonfly loves to make its home in sunny bodies of water that have little riverine vegetation. After mating, an act that the broad-bodied chasers perform in flight, eggs are laid near the river bank on the surface of the water. As hunters that prefer a raised blind, the dragonflies lie in wait for their prey on exposed positions and defend their territory from there as well.

Red kite (Milvus milvus)

The edges of bodies of waters and, above all, the extensive grasslands provide birds of prey with an excellent menu of foods. The birds build their nests in the tall trees of the alluvial forest. Roughly half of the world’s population of the bird brood in Germany. The hunting ground of the red kite extends over several square kilometers.

Diving beetles (Dytiscidae)

Thanks to their good flying skills, diving beetles can move from place to place. They love to settle down in newly formed bodies of water. They like to dine in particular on small animals that fall into the water. During the pupation phase, larvae leave the water and bury themselves.

Eurasian reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)

These songbirds are easier to hear than see. The long tunes they sing give the birds away. Anyone who catches a glimpse of a reed warbler, in spite of its camouflage, is in luck. The birds skillfully climb the reeds near the bank and build well-fortified nests there.

Gray-backed mining bee (Andrena vaga)

When they set up nesting tubes and brood chambers, these wild bees need bare ground that is created by the hooves of cattle on heavily grazed pasture lands. The bees also prefer the nectar and pollen that they find on such pastures.

Sustainability as a Company Value

“Sustainability has been one of our fundamental company values for many years now. This commitment involves both a long-term strategy and steps to protect and conserve natural resources. When the Heinz Sielmann Foundation and we proposed this idea to the City of Göttingen, we were greeted by an immediate wave of support, particularly from former Lord Mayor Rolf-Georg Köhler personally. The project would have never been possible without this backing. I hope that many nature lovers in Göttingen and the region will thoroughly enjoy the biotope.”

Joachim Kreuzburg, CEO Sartorius


The biotope was created as part of the Group’s extended sustainability program. As part of this work, Sartorius also carried out a comprehensive biodiversity project at its location in Yauco, Puerto Rico.


   Biodiversity in Yauco: 1,800 Trees Newly Planted

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