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Rhön Biosphere Reserve, Germany

This biosphere reserve is situated in the low mountain ranges of the Rhön in the centre of Germany. In contrast to other German low mountain areas, the Rhön is also known as the ’land of open vistas’ representing an open cultural landscape shaped by human use since many centuries.

Designation date: 1991


Regional network:  EuroMAB

Ecosystem-based network: 




    Surface : 184,939 ha

    • Core area(s): 4,199 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): 67,483 ha
    • Transition zone(s): 107,557 ha 

    Location: 50°35'N; 10°05'E

    Administrative Authorities

    Biosphärenreservat Rhön
    Verwaltung Thüringen
    Goethestraße 1
    D-36452 Zella/Rhön
    Federal Republic of Germany

    Tel:+49 (0)36964 - 8683- 30

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    Ecological Characteristics

    Naturally, the region would be covered by beech forest (Fagus sylvatica), however extensive farming and dairy cow raising transformed forests mainly into montane and sub-montane humid grasslands on siliceous soils. Two bogs host numerous endangered animal and plant species. The region is also known for its black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) habitat. The Rhön was designated as biosphere reserve after the reunification of Germany covering three Länder. At this time, a framework management plan for the protection, maintenance and development of the Rhön Biosphere Reserve has been elaborated with the participation of all stakeholders.



    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    About 162,000 inhabitants live in this rural area (as of 2004). Apart from agricultural activities, people make their living from small businesses and tourism. Partnerships among hotels, restaurants, farmers, artists seek to link all activities in the biosphere reserve. The Rhön is known for direct marketing of regional products. For instance, products from the Rhön sheep, an endangered breed adapted to the rough Rhön climate and apple products from regional orchards area marketed.
    Several visitor centers have been established providing divers environmental education programme to the public.



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    Last updated: January 2019