UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of the Elbe River Landscape

The biosphere reserve of the Elbe River Landscape "Biosphärenreservat Flusslandschaft Elbe", which was recognized by the UNESCO in 1997, is the largest inland biosphere reserve in Germany with approx. 340,000 hectares.

It represents one of the last natural river landscapes in Central Europe. Numerous natural river and meadow structures are preserved and embedded in a centuries-old cultural landscape. A biosphere reserve of a meadow landscape that crosses five federal borders is something unique in Germany.

The diversity of habitats in the near-natural meadows, the adjacent marshes, the tributary lowlands and the sandy "Geest" areas is impressive and the basis of great biodiversity. Dark hardwood riverside forests, inland dunes, steep sandy edges, vast meadow landscapes, and many waterbodies with reeds and fens define the Elbe meadow "Elbaue". Many plants and animals, including many endangered species, live here. The beaver, which was going almost extinct decades ago, has recaptured the entire course of the river as a habitat. White storks in the pasture land "Grünland" are part of the daily picture of summer. In addition to 200 breeding bird species, Nordic geese and swans use the area for resting and hibernation. And the white-tailed eagle also feels at home here.

Four of the five subregions of the UNESCO biosphere reserve of the Elbe River Landscape are in our section of the river between Hamburg and Wittenberge. Each offers outstanding experiences of nature. More information can be found here:

Lower Saxony - "Niedersachsen"

The Biosphere Reserve of the Lower Saxony Elbe Floodplain "das Biosphärenreservat Niedersächsische Elbtalaue" extends 100 km southeast of Hamburg and extends from Elbe kilometre 472.5 by Schnackenburg to kilometre 569 by Lauenburg at altitudes between 5 and 109 m above sea level. The area is 567 square kilometres.


Mecklenburg-West Pomerania - "Mecklenburg-Vorpommern"

The Mecklenburg part of the cross-border UNESCO Biosphere Reserve covers 397 square kilometres and extends over a length of about 65 km between Boizenburg and Dömitz.


The Brandenburg subregion extends over 70 river kilometres, from the border of Saxony-Anhalt to just before the gates of Dömitz in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. The Brandenburg part of the Biosphere Reserve is about 530 square kilometres.


Schleswig-Holstein has a small part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve near Lauenburg. A website is under construction.

Further information about the offers on-site can be obtained in the information centres of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve "Flusslandschaft Elbe":

The information centre in the Biosphaerium of the Elbe Floodplain "Elbtalaue"
The information centre at the fortress of Dömitz (Mecklenburg-West Pomerania)
The visitor centre of Rühstädt (Brandenburg)
The visitor centre at the castle of Lenzen (Brandenburg)

The information centre in Havelberg (Brandenburg)

More information centres are under construction.


The Partner Companies of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

Each of these certified companies is particularly committed to the preservation and further development of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of the Elbe River Landscape or its part of the Biosphere Reserve in the respective region.

Not only do they offer sustainable tourism services, but also, as an ambassador of the Biosphere Reserve, they provide lots of interesting information and tips about the region.

Recreation Areas

Since 2002, the law on the Biosphere Reserve "Niedersächsische Elbtalaue" has laid down rules for the protection of nature. Thus, the entire Elbe foreland is strictly protected as a nature reserve. This also means that drivers may not leave the roads and dogs must be kept on a lead. Exceptions are the designated recreation areas on the banks of the Elbe. There the roads may be left and water tourists are allowed to dock as well as to stay overnight on the banks of the Elbe.


You can get information about these recreation areas through the Biosphere Reserves.

For the municipalities, "Amt Neuhaus" and "Bleckede", the Biosphere Reserve "Niedersächsische Elbtalaue" has created an information flyer, which is available for download here.