The Spreewald is representative of a broad-scale contiguous ecosystem characterized by a widely branched system of watercourses. In the inner Spree forest, particularly in the lower Spree forest on expansive fen sites, damp forests with a high groundwater level are predominant (alder carr woodlands dominated by European alder (Alnus glutinosa) as well as alder-ash forests);
in the upper Spree forest, nutrient-rich 'damp grasslands' are also found. Due to the largely intact condition of natural resources in the Spree forest, it is a refugium for around 500 threatened animal and plant species. The endangered species include the Eurasian river otter (Lutra lutra), black stork (Ciconia nigra), Eurasian crane (Grus grus), white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), osprey (Pandion haliaetus), European fire-bellied toad (Bombina bombina) and several dragonfly species such as the beautiful demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo), banded demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens), several club-tailed dragonflies (Gomphus vulgatissimus, G. flavipes, Ophiogomphus cecilia) and a range of other invertebrates. Typical floristic elements of the Spree forest are represented by the river valley species Gratiola officinalis, Cnidium dubium and Inula britannica. The designation of the Spree forest as a biosphere reserve is evidence of its international importance. The project objective is the conservation and restoration of natural and near-natural components (such as damp forests, flowing and standing water, reedbeds and damp grassland) of the Spree forest lowland landscape, particularly by means of stabilizing the water regime. An early phase of the project will involve producing a management and development plan defining essential habitat creation and management measures.