The project area consists of species-rich near-natural deciduous and mixed forest in a mosaic with patches of grassland and surrounded by swathes of open arable land. The area has a near-surface water regime and alkaline-rich soils. Areas where the forest water regime approximates to its natural state feature carr, bog and alluvial woodland. The range of forest tree species largely corresponds to the area’s contemporary potential natural vegetation, with an above-average proportion of old trees.
As the area is sparsely populated and has little infrastructure, it provides a retreat for easily disturbed species. This especially benefits the lesser-spotted eagle, whose numbers are dwindling across Germany.
The project area is also home to other rare bird species such as the common crane, white-tailed eagle, red-backed shrike, bittern and red-breasted flycatcher, along with populations of barbastelle bat, hermit beetle and large copper butterfly.
The main nature conservation measure in the core area consists of designating at least 850 ha of ‘natural forest development areas’ (areas subjected to little or no forestry activity for at least 30 years) to improve habitat conditions for the lesser-spotted eagle. In addition, there are plans for the rewetting of some 550 ha of damaged carr, swamp and alluvial woodland and similarly for the rewetting of glacial and other depressions that have become peaty. Plans also exist to secure and establish 650 ha of permanent grassland to provide feeding habitats for the lesser-spotted eagle.