Creation, maintenance and preservation of rock fragment piles

Creation, maintenance and preservation of rock fragment piles
Walls made from rock fragments are important structural elements of the landscape. © Yann Kohler

Involved sectors

Agriculture, Hunting, Nature protection, Local population/citizens

Affected habitats

Bogs and fens, wetlands, Grassland, Arable land


Rock fragment piles are important structural elements of the landscape. From a nature conservation perspective, they constitute valuable stepping stones and insular biotopes in the agricultural landscape. A wide diversity of flora and fauna (insects, spiders, amphibians, reptiles and even small mammals) depend on these man-made habitats as their original habitats have disappeared in today’s cultural landscape. These ecologically valuable structural elements must therefore form a key part of future landscape planning. As far as possible, the rock fragment piles should be created near waysides or forest edges or by hedgerows, not in an isolated position, in order to safeguard connectivity with a biotope network. Management involves occasional clearing of vegetation and, if necessary, re-stacking.


Impact in particular on Small mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, Birds, Insects
Ecological impact  
Improvement or preservation of habitats Rock fragment piles provide resting places and habitats for various species of animals, as well as frost-proof winter quarters: the sand lizard (Lacerta agilis), the white wagtail (Motacilla alba alba), various species of mouse and also ground beetles, spiders, woodlice, snails, ants, bugs and wild bees.
Element of ecological network Rock fragment piles constitute valuable stepping stones and insular biotopes in the agricultural landscape. In a biotope network with a hedge, for example, a spatial contact is produced and the valuable ecological impact is increased further.
Other If the rock fragments are piled in a linear form, rock fragment walls emerge, which can be important as corridors.
Time of realisation for measure Immediate: Rock fragment piles can be populated immediately after construction.
Impact scope Very localised (plot): Most of the species that inhabit rock fragment piles have relatively small ranges. As a stepping stone biotope, however, rock fragment piles also have a part to play in a local biotope network.


Implementation period Days: Building and maintaining rock fragment piles do not take very long. Occasionally they have to be cleared of vegetation and may have to be re-stacked.
Frequency Non-recurring: Existing rock fragment piles need regular maintenance.

Economic and legal aspects

Costs Very low (less than 1'000 EUR): The construction and maintenance of rock fragment piles are not expensive (a few hours of work per year). Subsidies amount to approx. €25 per rock fragment pile.
Socio-economic impacts No direct impact
Sources of financing Other private sources, Public: local, Public: regional, Public: national, Public: European
Legal situation In many regions, rock fragment piles are protected by law. Their conservation is supported by nature conservation and/or agricultural subsidies.

Further information

Evaluation The ecological importance of rock fragment piles for various species of flora and fauna has been recognised. Their significance in an ecological network comes mainly from the interaction with other landscape structures (hedges, streams, ponds, rock fragment walls etc.). They must also be integrated meaningfully into an overall strategy.
Information Other: From various nature conservation organisations, the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), the Federation for Environment and Nature Protection in Germany (BUND), Pro Natura, the French nature conservation organisation FRAPNA,…; and from the various regional administrations (nature conservation and agriculture departments).

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