Rethinking species protection

It is a sunny morning when Christoph Hiller von Gaertringen (2/CIW) and Klaus Kaupp (2/CPV) unpack a number of new devices in the test areas in Plant 2. Representatives from construction yards and the “Green Areas and Cemeteries” municipal department of Waiblingen are also there. The guests watch the demonstration of STIHL power tools and their functions with interest, and are afterwards also able to get their own hands on them. The question that motivates everyone here: How can green spaces be maintained and managed in a way that is both efficient and has as little impact as possible on animals and plants?

Christoph Hiller von Gaertringen (right) and Klaus Kaupp (center) present the results of two years of project work.
Christoph Hiller von Gaertringen (right) and Klaus Kaupp (center) present the results of two years of project work.

Biodiversity in the world’s ecosystems has been declining at a worrying pace for years. The European Union has therefore set the objective of restoring biodiversity as part of the European Green Deal. A biodiversity strategy aims to achieve this by 2030; at STIHL, the trend radar highlighted the issue at an early stage. Product Approval at STIHL (2/CZ2) continuously tracks new laws and developments in the markets to enable opportunities and risks for STIHL to be identified in good time. It quickly became clear that the measures aimed at stopping biodiversity loss are highly relevant, especially for local authorities – an important target group for STIHL. But what does this mean for STIHL power tools and their use?

To address this question, an interdisciplinary project team was put together in 2021. Its members are drawn from Materials Technology, Pre-Development, Marketing, Sales and Corporate Communications. In collaboration with the University of Trier and the Institute for Applied Materials Flow Management (Institut für angewandtes Stoffstrommanagement, “IfaS”), the project team investigated how municipal areas can be maintained and managed in the most biodiversity-friendly way possible. To ensure that this complex topic is also dealt with in a scientifically well-founded manner, the opinions of independent experts are regularly incorporated. Project Manager Hiller von Gaertringen explains: “Public authorities have tremendous potential to make their outdoor spaces – such as parks, green areas, athletic fields, or cemeteries – more biodiverse. Our project has given us valuable insights into how this potential can be realized even more effectively with modified products, as well as new applications or services.”

Klaus Kaupp presents the new power tool ideas.

In addition to Waiblingen, authorities from Pirmasens in Rhineland-Palatinate and Losheim am See in Saarland were involved in this STIHL project as practical partners; these three towns have different locations, sizes and financial strength, but face the same challenges. In the municipalities, the biodiversity status was specifically measured on selected test sites with the support of the Goethe University Frankfurt. There was also consideration of whether and how the previously manual recording of species diversity could be simplified and automated.

An important learning from the project: Increasing animal and plant diversity in developed landscapes requires cultivation, and so human maintenance is required. However, it will be less possible to rely on large machinery and pesticides. Instead new harvesting and management techniques are required, for which existing STIHL products can be used in some cases, but new or modified power tools are also necessary. The project has given rise to numerous ideas for new and modified products. The professionals from the town’s construction yard are impressed by the product demonstration. Now it is time to translate the market potential of these developments into development projects. A winning situation for STIHL, numerous municipalities in Germany and Europe – and for biodiversity.

Biodiversität bei STIHL

The sustainable care of ecosystems is a cornerstone of long-term success for STIHL: We make products for working in and with nature – products that allow us to preserve and foster biodiversity. That is why biodiversity is central to our sustainability strategy.