German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Protected Landscape Elements

According to art. 29 para. 1 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act (BNatSchG) protected landscape elements (Geschützte Landschaftsbestandteile) are "parts of nature and landscape that have been designated in a legally binding manner and whose special protection is required

  1. in order to conserve, develop or restore the efficiency and proper functioning of the natural balance,
  2. in order to revive, structure or preserve the appearance of a local community or landscape,
  3. in order to avert adverse impacts, or
  4. due to their importance as the living sites of certain wild species of fauna and flora."

Object of protection

Just like Natural Monuments (Naturdenkmäler), protected landscape elements are a tool of physical protection. However, the category of protected landscape elements contains as special characteristic some features of habitat protection. Therefore both single objects, object groups (e. g. alley) and objects of areal extent (e. g. meadow orchards, ponds) can be protected within this category. The wording of law does not state any maximum extent for protected landscape elements. To be suitable as a protected landscape element, it is crucial for an object to be identifiable as a definite part of the landscape. Areas which represent an entire landscape do not qualify as object of protection as defined by § 29 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act. For precisely definable areas it is permitted to put all objects of the same type (e. g. all ancient trees within a municipality) under protection. Protected landscape elements can be animated or inanimated parts of nature, for example plants or soil formations. They have to be stationary and permanent. Common examples for protected landscape elements are trees, hedges, ridges, alleys, hedges on mounds, spinneys and streams. Further examples can be found at the end of this article and in the cited references.


The category of protected landscape elements evolved from art. 5 of the nature conservation act of the German Reich (Reichsnaturschutzgesetz) from 1935. It contained the fundamentals for today's landscape protection areas (Landschaftsschutzgebiete) and the protected landscape elements. Temporarily there was no equivalent to protected landscape elements in the legislation of the German Democratic Republic until 1970 and 1989, when the protected area categories "Protected Parks" and "Ecologically important areas" were introduced. Nowadays protected landscape elements are used in particular for the tree preservation orders and tree bye-laws of the municipalities.

Differentiation between Natural Monuments (Naturdenkmäler) and Protected Landscape Elements

Both protected landscape elements and the natural monuments, corresponding to art. 28 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act, belong to the isolated or small "protected areas" of Germany. In theory many objects fulfill the criteria for both categories and therefore could be designated as natural monument or as protected landscape element. In contrast to the natural monuments, protected landscape elements are allowed to be man-made - as long as their former utilization has been abandoned and they are part of nature at the moment of their declaration as a conservation area (e. g. graveyards, parks). This enables the designation of protected landscape elements in residential areas and cultural landscapes. Additionally, protected landscape elements do not need the property of being unique which is typical for natural monuments. Furthermore, they are not restricted by a maximum spatial extent. The differentiation from natural monuments can be based on the conservation targets as well. While natural monuments aim to conserve nature for aesthetical or historical-natural reasons or for research purposes, protected landscape elements rather focus on the processes within nature.

Designation and conservation purpose

The above mentioned ecological and aesthetical conservation purposes are the basis for the designation of protected landscape elements. An object has to fulfill at least one of the four criteria to be declared as a protected landscape element. The designation is usually performed by the responsible lower nature conservation authority. Aspects, such as erosion control, carbon dioxide fixation or the protection of species and biotopes, belong to the "efficiency and proper functioning of the natural balance". Objects can be preserved for this purpose even if they do not contribute to the functioning of the natural balance at present, as long as their contribution is to be expected in the future. The second cited conservation purpose addresses aesthetical reasons for the designation of protected landscape elements. The goal "avert adverse impacts" aims at climate protection, soil conservation and the conservation of water resources, as well as the reduction of noise pollution and immission of pollutants. The fourth purpose of protection underlines the importance of protected landscape elements for species- and biotope conservation and secures resting places, hatcheries and spawning beds of wild animals. Some federal state nature conservation acts name further conservation purposes, such as habitat connection or the safeguarding of the ability to use natural goods.

Intensity of protection

Compared to the other protected area categories of Germany, the intensity of protection of protected landscape elements is intermediate. Literature assigns equal levels of protection to both protected landscape elements and natural monuments. Protected landscape elements and nature conservation areas (Naturschutzgebiete) are ascribed a similar effectiveness in conserving exiting structures. The effectiveness of protected landscape elements in matters of habitat connection is comparable to that of landscape protection areas (Landschaftsschutzgebiete). The removal, destruction, damage or alteration of a protected landscape element is prohibited by a catalog of bans. The regime of protection additionally includes duties to act, for example the order of compensatory planting in case of a drop in populations to maintain the functioning of the natural balance. Interventions into protected landscape elements are permitted if they are necessary management measures to conserve the property of the object.

Protected landscape elements in Germany

Due to the predominant small extent of protected landscape elements, their designation by the lower nature conservation authority and the existing data records there is no national list of protected landscape elements in Germany. The chart below presents some examples of protected landscape elements with an areal extent.

Selected protected landscape elements in Germany
protected landscape elementlocationarea [ha] or lengthyear of designation
Island Kratzbruch und LiebesinselBE0,31999
18 hedges radiating from village BrunowMV1,42016
Petersberg Erfurt (extensive woods and wall)TH2,2 ha; 600 m length of the wall1991
Alter Nördlicher Friedhof, MunichBY4,11989
Amtsgarten of city HalleST5,41994
Moat and banks of citadel MainzRP81986
Fen area south-west of EgenburgBY82005
Avenue of lime trees along Granatstraße and Holtwicker Straße in Recklinghausen districtNRW9,7 km1989
Mesoxerophytic grassland at Huckenhofer Weg, EppelsheimRP101997
Peat pits north of LatzigseeMV192014
Pound of EglofsteinBY22,61997
Die Höllen, Eberswalde (woodland)BB44,22004
Orchards of Linden-LeihgesternHE451994
Weintinger Hölzl with Aubach, Islinger Mühlbach and Quellgebiet Graben In der AuBY801994
Sewage irrigation fields of RuhlsdorfBB1302015
Totality of hedges on moundsNIunknown1935
Conservation area for great bustard (Otis tarda) in HennebergSTca. 10792012


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Wegener, B. (2012): Kleinode unserer Heimat: Flächennaturdenkmale (FND) und Geschützte Landschaftsbestandteile (GLB) - Erfahrungen zur Erfassung im ehemaligen Landkreis Ludwigslust. - Naturschutzarbeit in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern - 55 (1), 11- 17.

Last Change: 14/07/2017