The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Spreewald (“forest along the river spree”) is a unique landscape in Central Europe, situated only 100 kilometres south-east of Berlin. The landscape is a vast inland delta around the river Spree which was shaped during the last ice age. The area is composed of meadows, forests and fens, yet the unique characteristic is its more than 276 km of navigable channels. The channels and rivers and their surroundings are not only habitat for many animals and plant species: Farmers continue the old tradition of using the channels for fishing and transportation, while many tourists today explore the region on board of the traditional Spree Forest punting boats, the Spreewaldkahn, or by canoe.
Designation date: 1991
Regional network: EuroMAB
Surface : 47,509 ha
- Core area(s): 1,238 ha
- Buffer zone(s): 9,070 ha
- Transition zone(s): 37,201 ha
Location: 51°88′N - 13°81′E
Brandenburg State Office of Environment under the authority of the Ministry of Rural Development, Environment and Agriculture of the Federal State of Brandenburg
Spreewald Biosphere Reserve
Haus für Mensch & Natur
Tel: +49(0)3542 8921-0
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Overall, the network of channels, rivers and streams totals 1,500 kilometres in length. They offer a protected habitat for some 6,000 species of animals and plants - among them rare species such as fire-bellied toads, common snipe, beavers and otters. Dragonflies and grass snakes inhabit the delta’s landscape. The streams also have formed the rest of the floodplain landscape: The Spreewald is home to many groundwater-dependent fens, other wetlands and marshes, alder forests, sedge meadows and wet meadows. These in turn are home to many rare species of plants such as water chestnut, sundew and different orchids. In autumn, large numbers of waterfowl stop by on their journey south, and sea eagles search for prey. Lapwings and snipes breed in the area.
For centuries, local communities have used the wetlands and waterways. The resulting small farmsteads have the appearance of a mosaic in the natural floodplain. The local population has developed traditional ways of living and working which are in close interaction with the natural floodplain, conserving the habitat for storks, otters and dragonflies.
The Biosphere Reserve focuses on maintaining these typical forms of land use. Especially organic farming holds potential for the future. Today, the Spreewald boasts the highest share of agricultural land for organic produce of all of Germany - the Spreewald gherkin is particularly famous.
The Biosphere Reserve revitalizes waterways of the Spree Forest, preparing for the impacts of climate change. Yet a well-functioning water management is essential in the Spreewald also in order to prevent flooding.
Through the “Spreewald meadow stock” initiated in 2015, everyone can support the maintenance of wet meadows. Local traditions and sustainable tourism are also supported, as is education for sustainable development. Nature adventure trails, canoe tours, a garden for medicinal plants and spices or the three visitor information centres count among the manifold options for visitors.
Last updated: October 2018