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Schaalsee Biosphere Reserve, Germany

The Schaalsee Biosphere Reserve is located in the Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in northern Germany and covers 30,257 hectares. 

Designation date: 2000


Regional network:  EuroMAB

Ecosystem-based network: 




    Surface : 30,257 ha

    • Core area(s): 1,194 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): 5,142 ha
    • Transition zone(s): 23,921 ha

    Location: 53°60' to 53°59'N; 10°45' to 10°45'

    Administrative Authorities

    Office for the Schaalsee Biosphere Reserve
    Wittenburger Chaussee 13

    D-19246 Zarrentin am Schaalsee

    Tel: + 49 (0) 38851/3020

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    Ecological Characteristics

    A special characteristic of this relatively small area is the diverse landscape with a variety of habitats. It is characterized by semi-natural ecosystems of woods, bogs, lakes and dry sites. The Schaalsee itself is a lake originating as a glacial tongue basin from the Weichsel glacial period.

    Due to the physiographic conditions, the overlap between continental and Atlantic climate influences, and the lack of disturbance over several decades due to its location on the inner-German border (until November 1989), the region has a diverse range of near-natural ecosystems and is species-rich in both flora and fauna. Near-natural ecosystem types exist here in characteristic forms in its forests, (raised) bogs and lakes. The presence of Atlantic geoelements in the broad sense means that the Schaalsee region is a good example of the Central Baltic beech wood area, which is the representative biome type for temperate broad-leaf forests/woodlands in Northern Central Europe.

    Research in the biosphere reserve is focusing on the monitoring of the Schaalsee Lake, and of the otter (Lutra lutra) population as well as analysis of visitor perception.

    The Schaalsee area is of special significance as a breeding, moulting, resting and overwintering ground for water birds and shorebirds. Due to its high faunal significance, most of the Schaalsee landscape has been designated a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the EU’s Birds Directive.

    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    Some 8,000 people live in the biosphere reserve (1998), making their living mainly from agriculture, fishery, forestry and tourism. There is a high potential for the development of agriculture and tourism. Environmentally sensitive production methods are needed which reduce the eutrophication of rivers, lakes and bogs. The production of high value foodstuffs and the setting-up of direct marketing systems can create extra sources of income for farmers. At the same time, the extensive use maintains the cultural landscape. In the future, additional tourist attractions might replace day-trip tourists by long-term holidaymakers which provide better earning opportunities for the local population.

    The transition area mainly includes the more intensively used farmland as well as residential and commercial sites. Most agricultural production takes place here. The transition area includes highly productive areas of farming and forestry. The priority here is to develop balanced, environmentally compatible forms of land use and promote sustainable regional development in order to preserve the landscape appearance that is typical of this cultural and physiographic region while improving quality of life for local people.


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    Last updated: January 2020