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      Biosphere Reserve Information



© Photo: Rhön BR
  General Description   This biosphere reserve is situated in the low mountain ranges of the Rhön in the centre of Germany. In contrast to other German low mountain areas, the Rhön is also known as the ’land of open vistas’ representing an open cultural landscape shaped by human use since many centuries. Naturally, the region would be covered by beech forest (Fagus sylvatica), however extensive farming and dairy cow raising transformed forests mainly into montane and sub-montane humid grasslands on siliceous soils. Two bogs host numerous endangered animal and plant species. The region is also known for its black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) habitat. The Rhön was designated as biosphere reserve after the reunification of Germany covering three Länder. At this time, a framework management plan for the protection, maintenance and development of the Rhön Biosphere Reserve has been elaborated with the participation of all stakeholders.
About 162,000 inhabitants live in this rural area (as of 2004). Apart from agricultural activities, people make their living from small businesses and tourism. Partnerships among hotels, restaurants, farmers, artists seek to link all activities in the biosphere reserve. The Rhön is known for direct marketing of regional products. For instance, products from the Rhön sheep, an endangered breed adapted to the rough Rhön climate and apple products from regional orchards area marketed.
Several visitor centers have been established providing divers environmental education programme to the public.
  Major ecosystem type   Temperate broad-leaf forest or woodlands
  Major habitats & land cover types   Natural montane and sub-montane broadleaf deciduous forest with beech (Fagus sylvatica), ash (Fraxinus excelsior), sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) etc.; nardus grasslands with Nardus stricta, Arnica montana, Viola canina etc.; limestone grassland/juniper heath; wet meadows; mountain meadows; basalt boulder slopes; bogs with Sphagnum spp. etc.; acid and calcareous fens with Eriophorum
vaginatum and E. angustifolium; freshwater and moorland; wooded bogs with birch (Betula carpatica); willow brush with Salix aurita, alder (Alnus glutinosa) swamps and alluvial alder forests with S. aurita; ploughed land and grasslands (mixed); forestry systems
mainly with beech (Fagus sylvatica) and spruce (Picea abies); settlements and industries
  Location   50°35'N; 10°05'E
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   184,939
  Core area(s)   4,199
  Buffer zone(s)   67,483
  Transition area(s) when given   107,557 (not yet zoned: military training area: 5,700)
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   +330 to +950
  Year designated   1991
  Administrative authorities   Three Rhön Biosphere Reserve Departments for Bavarian, Hessen and Thuringian parts
  Brief description   Applied research on a wide range of nature conservation, socio-economical and socio-cultural issues in the context of a cultural rural landscape(e.g. agriculture, forestry, settlement and economic development, traffic, tourism including impact studies):
-sustainable land-use and ecological regional development; marketing of regional products; labelling; regional identity and acceptance studies
-Species and habitat conservation in cultural landscapes; landscape maintenance; land-use changes;
-Conservation and rehabilitation of genetic resources: e.g. corncrake, wood stork, beaver, agrobiodiversity: Rhoen-sheep as local breed, Rhoen apple varieties;
-Geographic Information System/GIS (thematic maps)
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   Acidic deposition/Acid rain, climate, habitat, hydrology, pollution, pollutants.
  Biodiversity   Biodiversity, conservation, genetic resources, restoration/rehabilitation/redevelopment.
  Socio-economic   Agriculture/Production systems, demography, economic studies, forestry, quality economies, tourism, transport.
  Integrated monitoring   Geographic Information System/GIS, impact and risk studies/environmental impact, integrated studies/interdisciplinaty, land use/land cover, mapping, monitoring/methodologies, planning and zoning measures/zonation, sustainable development/sustainable use.
  Contact address   Michael Geier
Bayerische Verwaltungsstelle, Biosphaerenreservat Rhön
Oberwaldbehrunger Strasse 4
97656 Oberelsbach
  Telephone   (49) 09774/9102-0
  Fax   (49) 09774/9102-21
  Web site
  Contact address    
Hessische Verwaltungsstelle, Biosphaerenreservat Rhön
Groenhoff-Haus/ Wasserkuppe
36129 Gersfeld
  Telephone   (49) 06654/9612-0
  Fax   (49) 06654/9612-20
  Web site
  Contact address   Karl-Friedrich Abe
Thüringer Verwaltungsstelle, Biosphärenreservat Rhön
Mittelsdorfer Strasse 23
98634 Kaltensundheim
  Telephone   (49) 036946/382-0
  Fax   (49) 036946/382-22
  Web site

Last updated: 22/03/2007

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