On 20 November 2014, in Bad Kissingen, Germany, elected officials, guests of honour and stakeholders from Bavaria, Hesse and Thuringia attended a ceremony that certified the successful evaluation and extension of the Rhön Biosphere Reserve.
Rhön was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1991. The status of each biosphere reserve is subject to a periodic review every ten years. This represents an opportunity to carry out a qualitative survey of progress made by the reserve, especially concerning the updating of knowledge, skills and expertise in resource and ecosystem management. The Rhön Biosphere Reserve underwent its second evaluation in 2013 and the subsequent report was report was approved by the International Co-ordinating Council of the MAB Programme in 2014. At this time, the Council also agreed to a significant extension of the Rhön Biosphere Reserve on the Bavarian side. Thus, the area in Lower Franconia has almost doubled. Today, the biosphere reserve covers a total of 243,323 ha, 3,900 ha of which comprises the core zones.
The Director of the Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences and Secretary of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, Mr Han Qunli, acknowledged the importance of this twofold success, noting that ‘the extension of the Rhön Biosphere Reserve demonstrates its dynamic and collective effort and commitment, itself a strong a sign of success’. He added that the ‘Rhön Biosphere Reserve extension is not just an addition in numbers of hectares of land or human population. The extension is a true and joint commitment to making the Rhön Biosphere Reserve a real model region for sustainable development, a key notion that has been pushed forward by Germany for years in its national and international cooperation agenda.’