German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Landscape Protection Areas

Landscape protection areas (LPAs) are areas designated in a legally binding manner. Article 26, paragraph 1 of Germany's Federal Nature Conservation Act (BNatSchG) states that landscape protection areas are areas that "require special protection regarding nature and landscape

  • to conserve, develop or restore the efficiency and proper functioning of the natural balance, or the capability of natural resources to regenerate themselves and to be available for sustainable use, and to protect living sites and habitats of certain wild fauna and flora species,
  • because of the diversity, special characteristics, beauty or special cultural-historical significance of their landscapes, or
  • because of their special importance for recreation."


Source: Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), 2018 using data provided by the Bundesländer
Basic Spatial Data: © GeoBasis-DE/BKG 2015
Landscape protection areas in Germany

The basic concept of the protected area category "Landscape Protection Area" dates back to paragraph 5 of the Reich's nature protection act from 1935. However, the landscape protection area as a discrete protected area category existed not until the introduction of the paragraph 15 in the Federal Nature Conservation Act in 1976. In the international system of protected area management categories of the IUCN landscape protection areas generally correspond to Category V (Protected Landscape).

Compared to other protected area categories, the LPA has a rather weak protection force. But because of their numerousness and their partly considerable magnitude of up to 233,000 ha (LPA Bavarian Forest) landscape protection areas make an important contribution to the German protected areas network (image 1).

In addition, LPAs can help to conserve cultural landscapes that might not meet the higher requirements of a nature conservation area, but are nevertheless important for nature and landscape conservation.

Quantity and area of landscape protection areas

By the end of 2016, there existed 8,818 landscape protection areas in Germany. Together, they sum up to a total area of 10.18 million hectares, which represents 28,4 % of the area of Germany. Above average proportions of landscape protection areas can be found in North Rhine-Westphalia, Brandenburg and in the Saarland. Hesse, Berlin and Schleswig-Holstein hold minor proportions (see table 1). However, the individual sizes of the landscape protection areas differ widely, because there exist no lower or upper limit in area size.

Quantity and area of the landscape protection areas sorted by German federal states
German stateState Area in HektarsNumber of LPAsArea of LPAs in HektarsProportion of LPAs on state area in %
Mecklenburg-West Pomerania2.318.238145762.92432,9
Lower Saxony4.764.1101.2661.025.72721,5
North Rhine-Westfalia3.408.5973.7991.635.22248,0

Object of protection

Landscape protection areas not only conserve pristine natural landscapes but also cultural landscapes - that includes also agricultural areas and forested lands - to preserve the cultural heritage of Germany. Even human settlements can be included in landscape protection areas if they are regarded as a constituent of the surrounding conservation area. For example, farmsteads and dispersed settlements are commonly included, but not built-up areas. A homogenous landscape structure is not required for designation, as the aim of a LPA is to foster biotope interconnections and to maintain the scenery.

Reasons for designation

A Landscape protection area can be designated because of:

  • ecological importance: (Article 26, paragraph 1 BNatSchG: “conservation, development or restoration of the efficiency and proper functioning of the natural balance, or the capability of natural resources to regenerate themselves and to be available for sustainable use”)
  • aesthetical reasons: (Article 26, paragraph 1 BNatSchG: “diversity, special characteristics and beauty of the landscape”)
  • cultural-historical meaning (if history influenced landscape)
  • recreation purposes

It is not necessary that all four reasons are met at the same time, but at least one of them is required for Designation. Landscape protection Areas are usually designated by ordinance of the federal nature conservation authorities.

Aim and purpose of protection

Landscape protection areas aim to protect landscapes not only with respect to scientific-ecological reasons, but also with regard to cultural-social aspects. The landscape should be conserved in its unique present state. In practice it means that the functional capacity of nature goods must be conserved and the regeneration and use function of the natural resources must be secured or restored. Additionally, landscape protection areas should serve as visual appealing recreation areas. The designation of LPAs can also help to impede further land consumption by settlements, industry or infrastructure measures.

Level of protection

Most of the landscape protection areas do not restrict usage or accessibility, because only the total character of the area has to be conserved. Actions, which change the character of the landscape, are prohibited, especially house building. Agriculture, forestry and hunting are permissible if the activities are not opposed to the protection purposes listed in Article 26, paragraph 1 BNatSchG. In some cases, land management is even necessary to conserve the character of the cultural landscape. Depending on the specific LPA ordinance, it is not permitted to alter or remove characteristic landscape elements, like a scenery influencing hedge, but the cutting of single trees may be admissible. Although LPAs are commonly regarded as a protected area category with a rather low protection force, they can, depending on the specifications of their ordinance, equal the standards of a nature conservation area.

Differences between landscape protection areas and nature conservation areas

Compared to nature conservation areas, landscape protection areas are commonly larger-scaled and imply less usage restrictions. Also, the requirements for the designation of a LPA are lower than those for a nature conservation area. LPAs often serve as a buffer zone around nature conservation areas. Furthermore, the two categories differ in their protection intention: The nature conservation area aims to protect a pristine, little human-influenced landscape, the landscape protection area in contrast is targeted to conserve cultural, managed landscapes. Hence, it is attempted to restrict human influences in nature conservation areas as far as possible, on the other hand, public accessibility and availability are important qualities of landscape protection areas.

Literature (only available in German)

Bundesamt für Naturschutz (2016): Daten zur Natur 2016. - Bonn, S.102-103.

Dietmann, T. (1991): Studie über Wirksamkeit von Landschaftsschutzgebietsverordnungen. - Schriftenreihe des Bayerischen Landesamtes für Umweltschutz - 96, München, S. 5 - 16 und 37 - 82.

Dietrich, B. (2010): Eine Systematisierung der Schutzgebietskategorien des Bundesnaturschutzgesetzes nach landschaftsökologischen Kriterien. - Verlag Dr. Kovač, Hamburg, S. 97-101.

Last Change: 15/11/2018