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Bundesamt für Naturschutz


Agriculture and forestry
Large-Scale Conservation Projects
Section of a former alluvial fan landscape in the Upper Rhine region
Federal state
Division I 2.5 Forest Nature Conservation and Sustainable Forest Management
Funding phase I: 2004 - 2007 (management and development planning), Project II: 2009 - 2021 (implementation)
Project area: 17,768 ha, core area: 9,112 ha
Rhineland-Palatinate, in the Germersheim and Südliche Weinstrasse administrative districts, Physiographic region: Vorderpfälzer Tiefland (Anterior Palatinate lowlands), Nördliche Oberrheinniederung (Northern Upper Rhine lowlands) and Haardrand
Grant amount
12.100.000 €

Project description

The Bienwald is part of a former ice-age alluvial fan landscape unique to both Germany and Europe. It includes the largest and highest-quality wet forest area in south-western Germany. At 12,300 hectares, it is also the largest area of forest in the Upper Rhine lowland plain. Despite various forms of land use, the Bienwald remains largely natural. Large, mostly unfragmented and structurally diverse habitat complexes provide an enduring retreat for large-range species such as wildcat and reduce the risk of their becoming extinct in the region. The wildcat is one of Germany’s rarest native mammal species and was previously only known to inhabit upland forest. Some 40 to 60 specimens are now thought to live in the Bienwald.

A rich mosaic of different habitat types ranging from dry dunes to wet carr woodland lends this centuries-old cultural landscape its special attraction. The Bienwald’s near-natural state and favourable climate are two of the main factors explaining the presence of populations of rare animal and plant species that are significant at both national and European scale. For example, the Bienwald is home to the largest population of middle-spotted woodpecker in Rhineland-Palatinate, with over 200 breeding pairs. Bat and beetle specialists even consider the Bienwald to be of international importance.

The main measure in the project comprises the designation of an unbroken 1,680 ha area of natural forest donated by the State of Rhineland-Palatinate. The managed forest that remains – an area in excess of 10,000 ha – is already looked after along sustainable forestry lines and further nature conservation objectives are to be implemented there in the future. These include the nurturing of forest ecological communities with native tree species characteristic of the physiographic region and a management strategy to increase the numbers of old and habitat-providing trees. There are also plans gradually to increase the proportion of oak in the managed forest and to keep hoofed game as a way of deliberately promoting natural rejuvenation and succession. Specific action will additionally be taken to improve the numerous special sites characteristic of the Bienwald, including carr and swamp woodland and sparse dry woodland in dune areas.

Project funding agencies

BMUB/BfN; Rhineland-Palatinate State Ministry of the Environment, Agriculture and Forestry; Germersheim administrative district; Weinstrasse administrative district
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