Mining operations at the Fortuna-Garsdorf opencast mine began in 1955. With a total area of 2,280ha, it was at times considered one of the world’s largest opencast mines. The last tonne of lignite was removed from the opencast mine in May 1993. Initially, material was transported to the Glessener Höhe outside dump and Alt-Fortuna-Fischbach-Beisselsgrube by train. Sections of the north-south railway were actually integrated into the opencast mine for the transportation of material. The route described a long curve, allowing the heavy overburden trains to overcome the grade coming out of the opencast mine. This loop known as the ‘Rather Schleife’ is located between Rath and Auenheim. Later on, the modern large-scale opencast mines switched to belt conveyors.
Special ecological features
More than 600 plant and fungus species and around 800 animal species have been recorded in the Fortuna-Garsdorf recultivated area to date, and a systematic study of some animal groups is still pending. Many of these species are endangered and on the Red List.
Some of the rare and endangered animal and plant species are:
Birds: Skylark, corn bunting, partridge, quail, little grebe, great crested grebe, Montagu’s harrier, lapwing, little ringed plover, turtle dove, cuckoo, red-backed shrike, oriole, wood lark, wood warbler, nightingale, wheatear, meadow pipit, linnet
Mammals: Brown hare, hazel dormouse
Amphibians: Natterjack toad, green toad, agile frog
Reptiles: Sand lizard, slow-worm
Wild bees: Spiny mason wasp, black-headed mason wasp, clover blunthorn bee, blunthorn nomad bee
Grasshoppers: Blue-winged grasshopper, two-spotted grasshopper
Butterflies: Pale clouded yellow, black-veined white, large wall brown, wall brown, white admiral
Dragonflies: Scarce blue-tailed damselfly, hairy dragonfly, scarce chaser, yellow-winged darter
Orchids: 10 different native species, including southern marsh orchid, bee orchid, military orchid
See our list of species for more.