Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt

Biodiversity mapping


Since 1985, the Senckenberg Research Institute, Department of Botany and Molecular Evolution Research, has been mapping biotope types throughout the entire city area – excluding some larger industrial facilities – on behalf of the city council of Frankfurt/Main. The connection of the biodiversity mapping to the Senckenberg Research Institute is obvious, as one focus of Senckenberg's research traditionally lies in the Rhine-Main area and regional flora and fauna have been documented in the collections for more than 200 years. This provides excellent prerequisites for recording, assessing and documenting changes in flora and fauna. In cooperation with the “Hessische Landesanstalt für Umwelt” and the City of Frankfurt am Main, the 10th meeting of the working group "Biotope mapping in urban areas" was held at the Senckenberg Research Institute in 1988, the results of which were published in the “Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg”, vol. 126.



Section of a biotope type map with and without aerial photo background. The individual biotopes are identified by object numbers and biotope type numbers. In an associated database, the mapped habitats are characterised in more detail by additional codes and textual descriptions.

In 1990, the first round of biotope mapping of the urban area was completed, and since then revisional mapping has been carried out every six years. Since the year 2000, biotope mapping has also taken place in the Frankfurt city forest, which was previously excluded from the investigations. Since foundation of the working group in 1985, more detailed floristic-faunistic studies have been carried out in selected areas and habitats of the city of Frankfurt in the form of so-called "precision mappings", which provide answers to issues such as landscape-structural features and connectivity, species inventory, nature conservation as well as maintenance and development and have led to more comprehensive special projects  (e.g. "Frankfurt 21"; "Stadtwald"; "Flughafen-Projekt", "Frankfurter Kreuz"). The results of this work form an indispensable basis for the city's sectoral planning (landscape and nature conservation planning, species and biotope protection programmes, intervention mitigation regulations). In addition to providing scientifically sound information on the condition, endangerment and need for protection as well as the development capacity of nature in the city, they also provide information on the distribution of habitats, plant and animal species and enable statements to be made on their potential for endangerment and on the planning of protective measures.

Biotope mapping of the city of Frankfurt since 1985
1st mapping       1985-1990
2nd mapping      1993-1997
3rd mapping       1998-2003
4th mapping        2005-2012
5th mapping        2013-2017
6th mapping        2018-


The purse web spider Atypus piceus (Sulzer, 1776), one of the three native relatives of the tarantulas, from a limestone grassland on the Berger Hang in Frankfurt am Main (Photo: A. Malten).

More about spiders


Major topics of the 4th monitoring period (2001-2005) are:

  • Realization of 3rd revisional monitoring using the key to habitat types ("Biotoptypenschlüssel")
  • Realization of biotope mapping in the "Stadtwald“, the municipal forest south of Frankfurt/Main
  • Registration of the habitats to be protected according to §23 HENatG (Hessisches Naturschutzgesetz) and habitats according to fauna-flora-habitat (FFH) directive
  • Exploration of species diversity and dynamics of selected biotope types
  • Evaluation of accompanying measures towards renaturation, maintenance, and development (e.g. Nidda rivulet, former airbase Bonames)

Since 2009, the working group has been running the website about flora of Frankfurt, where a lot of information on the local plant life can be found and where citizens can report plant finds.

Since 2016, the working group Biotope mapping has been carrying out ecological monitoring on the Frankfurt sites of the joint project "Cities dare wilderness – experience diversity". For this purpose, studies on fauna, flora and habitats are carried out year-round at the Bonames North Park and at the Monte Scherbelino. More information.

Streuobstbestand Karte Streuobst

Data on size and distribution of various habitats have already been compiled within the evaluation of the previous mapping runs. Above right is an example of the point distribution of the habitat type orchard meadow in the urban area of Frankfurt during the 3rd revision mapping. Between 1998 and 2003 a total of 320 ha of orchard stands could be mapped (Photo: D. Bönsel). This habitat is under legal protection in Hesse. Nevertheless, the evaluation of the biotope mappings shows a steady decline in the number of fruit orchards and a deterioration in habitat quality.

Eichen-Hainbuchenwald Karte Eichen-Hainbuchenwälder

Oak-hornbeam forests belong to the near-natural forests of the Frankfurt city forest, which are also subject to the protection of the EU Habitats Directive (FFH). Their occurrence in the urban area is concentrated in the Schwanheimer Wald, the Nied- and Bieg-Wald and the Enkheimer Wald. A total of approximately 200 ha of this habitat type were identified during mapping 1998-2003 (Photo: A. Malten).

Epilobium brachycarpum Karte Epilobium brachycarpum

A typical feature of urban habitats is the high number of neophytes, which have been introduced e.g. via transshipment points and have been able to establish themselves in the local flora. An example of a plant that has only recently been discovered in Frankfurt and originally originated in North America is the short-fruited willowherb (Epilobium brachycarpum). Findings of the species in Frankfurt are shown in the point distribution map above (Photo: A. Malten).

Iris pseudacorus Karte Iris pseudacorus

Occurrences of specially protected species under the Federal Nature Conservation Act are of great importance in planning. The yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus) is such a species. The point map shows its findings in the city area since 1985 (Photo: A. Malten).

Biotoptypenschlüssel 2007 (PDF file, 1 MB)

The results of the biotope mapping led to a large number of unpublished reports as well as generally accessible publications.

In context of the close cooperation between Senckenberg Research Institute and Goethe University Frankfurt, a number of exam papers (theses) was written.

The biotope mapping is explained in detail in a brochure published by the City of Frankfurt am Main.