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Animals and plants on Dybbøl Banke

Animals

The animals on Dybbøl Banke belong to this particular cultural landscape. Hare leap around on the fields and in the redoubts, and the fox is very common. Sheep and cattle graze in the redoubt area and the flora of the grassland attracts insects which in turn provide food for a variety of birds.

Hare thrive on Dybbøl

Hare have become frequent visitors to Dybbøl’s redoubts since the surrounding fields were converted to organic farming in 1997. Hare live on grasses, herbs and crops, and it is easier for them to find food on areas where toxic pesticides and artificial fertilizers are not used. The fox is also common.

The tree frog - an unexpected visitor

The arrival of the tree frog at Dybbøl Banke in recent years is something of a puzzle. It is widespread on Als, but now it is also croaking on the Sundved side, where previously it was unknown. The guess is that someone must have released some tree frogs in the area, as it is unlikely they could have swum across Als Sund alone. Today tree frogs live in the many ponds and wetlands at Dybbøl Banke.

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Plants

The landscape on Dybbøl Banke varies between grassland, forest and cultivated fields. Sheep and cattle graze around the redoubts and this helps preserve the characteristic grasslands with rare herbs. The undisturbed forest along the coast is home to many species of plants and animals. The state-owned farmland has been run organically since 1997, growing grass or crops.

Rare weeds from the past

Relics of earlier agriculture still crop up as field weeds which we no longer see today. For example there is the rare sickleweed with its white flowers and sharp, jagged leaves at the German Redoubt 12. The plant probably arrived here in olden times with a seed mix which had not been sorted as thoroughly as modern mixes.

In good years, organic farming of the area allows for a multitude of old field flowers such as corn poppies, mérat and cornflowers. The blood-red corn poppies could symbolise the bloodshed during the battles in 1864.

Along the edges of ditches grow herbs such as common restharrow, knapweed, wild teasel and chicory. Wild teasel was once grown in large amounts as its dried flowers were used to tease wool before it could be spun. Chicory has been used to dilute or substitute expensive coffee.

Wild forests with walnuts

The forest and scrub along the coast by the Gendarmsti have their own unique identity. The steep slopes here regularly cause landslides, and as time passes these become overgrown with self-sown trees and bushes. The forest looks after itself as an undisturbed forest.

The descendents of trees from private gardens in Sønderborg can be found here. Walnuts grow at several paces on the slopes, and at other places cherry trees and elm. Seeds are brought here by birds or by the wind. On the forest floor there are herbs such as clover, creeping cinquefoil and in some places carline thistle. The rare and beautiful great horsetail, which only grows along the eastern Jutland coast in Denmark, can also be found here.

Agriculture on Dybbøl

Danish Nature Agency farms 145 hectares on Dybbøl Banke. The whole area is farmed organically. Corn is grown on half of the area, while the other half is grass. Some of the grass is harvested and some is grazed by cows and sheep.

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Sheep and heifers take care of the landscape

Sheep and cattle have a special role as landscape carers on the redoubts and on the fields around them. Kongeskansen (the King’s redoubt) is grazed by sheep which do not damage the defence work. Several of the other redoubts are grazed by heifers which also have a lighter hoof and do not damage the monuments like adult cows.

The skylark sings over Dybbøl Banke

Birds also enjoy the grassland and the organically farmed fields. The large range of herbs means more of the insects many birds and their young feed on. These birds include the skylark, which flocks over Dybbøl Banke in the summer. Its young feed on insects, of which there are now many more than there have been. When the cannon fell silent just before the storm of Dybbøl, all the soldiers could hear were the songs of the skylarks overhead.

Birdlife in Viemosen

One of the habitats of the tree frog is Viemosen by the Gendarmsti path west of the redoubt area. The open marshland is also a favourite spot for water fowl such as greylag goose and several species of duck. The birds seek shelter here, especially in bad weather. Viemosen is also a beautiful area and the campsite nearby is a good base from which to explore the area.


 

Farmland and battleground

The redoubts on Dybbøl Banke have been built in the middle of farmland, with farms, fields, meadows and hedgerows all around. Before the area was a battleground in the mid-1800s, the peasants of Dybbøl had been grazing their livestock here and farming the land for centuries.

Today, livestock again graze the redoubts. Sheep and cows keep the area light and open by eating the grass. Many grassland herbs thrive here. Orange hawkweed grows on the hill by the mill, and the German Redoubt 12 is covered by the finest grasslands with waxcap mushrooms and meadow saxifrage.

The trees on Dybbøl Banke

Trees grow on some of the redoubts, like the old fruit trees in German Redoubt 6 or the rowanberry trees in the Bridgehead Redoubt. The old limetree allé along Dybbølgade was an important part of the identity of the road, and in recent years the trees have been replaced with new trees. Many of the hedgerows along the fields south of Langdamgård have been replanted to give a better impression of what the landscape looked like in 1864. There were three-four times more hedgerows at that time than today.

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Orchids in the coppice forest

A small deciduous forest lies between Redoubts I and II. The forest has been coppiced, which is the oldest form of forestry known in Denmark. The trees in a coppice are cut right down to the soil. When the trees are coppiced regularly in part of the forest and branches and trunks are removed, the stumps grow new shoots. People have been growing wood in this way for timber, tools, firewood and fencing for thousands of years.

In spring there is a rich carpet of flowers in the forest including Corydalis cava and a couple of species of orchid.