German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


National protected areas

Biosphere reserves in Germany

Map of Biosphere reserves in Germany

Sources: Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) 2020 using data provided by the Bundesländer Basic Spatial Data: © GeoBasis-DE / BKG 2019 Data licence Germany - attribution - Version 2.0 (

map as PDF (barrier-free)

Land covered by biosphere reserves in Germany

Biosphere reserve Federal stateTotal area (ha)
Südost-RügenMecklenburg-West Pomerania22.800
Schleswig-Holsteinisches Wattenmeer und HalligenSchleswig-Holstein443.100
Hamburgisches WattenmeerHamburg11.700
Niedersächsisches WattenmeerLower Saxony240.000
Schaalsee Mecklenburg-West Pomerania31.000
Flusslandschaft Elbe Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Lower Saxony, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt282.250
Spreewald Brandenburg47.509
Karstlandschaft SüdharzSaxony-Anhalt30.034
Oberlausitzer Heide- und Teichlandschaft Saxony30.102
Thüringer Wald Thuringia33.672
RhönBavaria, Hesse, Thuringia243.323
Bliesgau Saarland36.152
Pfälzerwald-NordvogesenRhineland Palatinate180.969
Schwäbische Alb Baden-Württemberg85.269
Schwarzwald Baden-Württemberg63.236
Berchtesgadener LandBavaria84.000
Germany 2.028.346

Source: Federal Agency for Nature Conservation 2020 using data provided by the Bundesländer.

Data as of August 2020

18 Biosphere reserves serve nature conservation and act as model regions for nature-compatible economic activities

Germany's 18 biosphere reserves serve large-scale protection of natural and cultural landscapes. They are also used to test nature-compatible ways of life and forms of economic activity. Currently they cover 3.9 percent of German territory.

Under Section 25 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act, biosphere reserves are defined as large-scale, natural and cultural landscapes characteristic to Germany that primarily serve the conservation, development or restoration of a landscape as characterised by traditional land use along with associated species and habitat diversity.

The 18 biosphere reserves in Germany cover an area measuring 2.028.346 hectares. Excluding the waters and intertidal zones of the North Sea and Baltic Sea, this represents approximately 3.9 percent of German territory. Covering an area of 443,100 hectares, the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea and Halligen biosphere reserve is the largest in the country.

Biosphere reserves used to test sustainable ways of life and forms of economic activity

Biosphere reserves are used in model projects to test ways of life and forms of economic activity that are both economically viable and serve in protecting the natural environment and its associated flora and fauna. For this reason, biosphere reserves are needed to sensitise local populations to nature and the landscape, and to encourage them to adopt development practices that are compatible with nature and the environment. Biosphere reserves are also areas in which research can be conducted on the complexities of human-environment relations.

Of Germany’s 18 biosphere reserves, 16 are recognised as UNESCO biosphere reserves under the worldwide Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme. Efforts continue to attain the same recognition for the "Karstlandschaft Südharz" and the "Drömling" biosphere reserves.

More information

Biosphere Reserves (BfN-page)


Last Change: 06/11/2020