Thüringen Forest

This biosphere reserve is located in the Thuringian forest and is crossed by the famous German hiking trail ‘Rennsteig’

Declaration Date: 1979, extensions in 1986 and 1990
Administrative authorities:  Thuringia
Surface Area: 17,098 ha
Core area(s): 437 ha
Buffer zone(s): 2,024 ha
Transition area(s): 14,637 ha

Central point: 50°36'N - 10°48'E

Ecological characteristics

The biosphere reserve comprises mainly large contiguous mountain spruce forests. Furthermore, beech forests, block and rock forest communities, high-elevation raised bogs can be found. Upland, low-lying and valley meadows reflect the extensive use by people for dairy cow raising. The entire biosphere reserve has been designated as Natura 2000 site and European Bird Protection Area because of black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) and black stork (Ciconia nigra) populations.

Geology, geomorphology:
The biosphere reserve is located in the central region of the Thuringian Forest and it includes parts of two geological features of the region: the Thuringian
Forest proper and the Thuringian schist mountains. The mountain range is cut by numerous valleys, and it slopes evenly from the ridge to 475 m, on its northern side, and to 420 m. On its southern side peaks it includes Großer Beerberg (982 m), the Thuringian Forest's highest mountain, Schneekopf (978 m), Finsterberg (944 m).


  • Acidic-soil mountain spruce forests of montaneous and high-montaneous categories
  • Silicate spring fields, soft-water streams and stream-bank
  • Communities of crystalliferous mountains

Socio-economic characteristics

© Vessertal-Thüringen Forest BR

The biosphere reserve is only sparsely populated. Around 4,200 people (2001) live in the transition area in the villages of Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig, Frauenwald and Vesser, and parts of Schleusinger-neundorf. The area is also important for the protection of water resources. Activities in the transition area are agriculture, fish farming, commerce and retail, forestry, glass manufacture and crafts. Tourism – Hiking, Horseback-riding, Winter sports (cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, ski-jumping) – is a major source of income in the region.

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                                                                                 Last updated in March 2013

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