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Bundesamt für Naturschutz

Untere Havelniederung

Areas and habitats
Waters and floodplains
Large-Scale Conservation Projects
Large-scale, interconnected wetlands with intermediate wet river valley meadows
Federal state
Division II 2.4 Water Ecosystems, Hydrologie, Blue Belt
Funding phase: 2005 - 2009 Funding phase II: 2009 - 2025
core area: 9.000 ha, project area: 18.700  ha
Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt, north-west of the city of Brandenburg up to the confluence of the Havel with the river Elbe
Grant amount
Funding phase I: 2.100.000 € Funding phase II: 41.400.000 €

Project description

The Untere Havelniederung – the lower Havel alluvial plain – and adjacent lowlands make up the biggest area of interconnected inland wetlands in western Central Europe. The area’s outstanding supra-regional importance stems from its lack of fragmentation and the fact that the meadows still flood annually on a large scale in winter and spring. The roughly 90 km length of the Havel river between Pritzerbe and its confluence with the Elbe is mainly bordered by meadows and pasture land, near-natural river banks and oxbows, and large patches of reed beds and meadow woodland. Some 1,000 endangered and protected species have been recorded, including over 150 species of breeding bird, beaver, otter, osprey and common sandpiper.

Major threats to the area are the current widened condition of the Havel, locks and weirs, and the critical nutrient situation. The aim of the project is to return the lower reaches of the Havel and parts of the recent floodplain to a near-natural development state in an approximately 9,000 ha core area along about 86 km of the river. This is mainly to be achieved by reversing earlier river modifications and allowing the natural river regime to run its course. Plans include removing top coverings from about 29 km of river bank, reconnecting 15 oxbows, activating 49 flood channels, removing 17 embankments, levelling two dykes with about 500 ha under polder, establishing 89 ha of floodplain and riverside woodland, bringing river management into line with project objectives, improving water management (by varying water levels behind locks and weirs) and improving grassland management in line with nature conservation needs.

This renaturalisation of a national waterway on such a large scale is unprecedented in Germany and constitutes a model project of importance far beyond the region. The necessary large-scale coordination of nature conservation, transportation and river management concerns for a national waterway is similarly unparalleled.

Entity responsible for the project

Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU) e.V.
Charitéstr. 3, 10117 Berlin
Projektbüro Untere Havelniederung
Ferdinand-Lassalle-Str. 10, 14712 Rathenow

Project funding agencies

BMU/BfN, States of Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt; NABU Deutschland
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