The Biosphere Reserve - Facts and Figures

The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Elbe River Landscape MV as a landscape area represents a natural low-lying stream with a large floodplain and numerous tributaries. Typical of the varied cultural landscape is the close intermeshing of wetlands (floodplains and smoke water areas, bracks, oxbow lakes, fens) with dry biotopes (banks of the Elbe, inland dunes, heaths) and the remains of natural floodplain and swamp forests.

Luftbild von der Elbe bei Horst mit dem Vierwald im UNESCO-Biosphärenreservates Flusslandschaft Elbe M-V. © LerchUlmer
The river Elbe between Horst and Boizenburg

General data

  • Area name: Biosphere Reserve Elbe River Landscape Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
  • Federal state: Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
  • District: Ludwigslust-Parchim (LUP)
  • Area size: 46,092 ha (461 km²)
  • Extension: north / south: ca. 35 km, east / west: ca. 51 km
  • Location: on the right bank of the Elbe between the state borders with Schleswig-Holstein (Lauenburg) and Brandenburg (Dömitz) and along the state border with Niedersachsen (Neuhaus district); Elbe-km 502 to 511 near Dömitz and Elbe-km 555 to 565 near Boizenburg
  • Natural environment: Lower Middle Elbe Valley
Ausblick in 40 m Höhe vom Panoramacafé im Hafen Dömitz im UNESCO-Biosphärenreservat Flusslandschaft Elbe M-V. © F. Nessler
Viewing point from the 40m high panoramic-café in the port of Dömitz.

Residents in the Biosphere Reserve Region

Not all municipal areas are entirely within the borders of the Biosphere Reserve Elbe River Landscape MV. Since many activities for the Biosphere Reserve often go beyond its borders, the term Biosphere Reserve Region is better suited. This is identical to the  allocation area [pdf 0.9 mb] for the certification of the "Partners of the Biosphere Reserve".

Population (Biosphere Reserve Region): ca 53,400

Area (Biosphere Reserve Region): 124,663 ha

Population density (Biosphere Reserve Region): ca 43 inhabitants / km²

Karte des Biosphärenreservates und der Biosphärenreservatsregion © Biosphärenreservatsamt
Map of the Biosphere Reserve and the Biosphere Reserve Region

Municipalities in the Biosphere Reserve Region

35 municipalities (in six offices) and three unofficial cities

Diagram: use of land in the UNESCO-Biosphere Reserve Elbe River Landscape MV
Mit Schafen extensiv beweidetes Vorland an der Elbe. © D. Foitlänger
Extensively grazed foreland on the Elbe River.

Use of Land

arable land 15,671 ha 34%
forest 15,210 ha 33%
pastureland 10,140 ha 22%
settlements, traffic areas 1,844 ha   4%
wood, heather, swamp, reed 2,305 ha   5%
inland water 461 ha   1%
other    461 ha   1%
total 46,092 ha  
Hochwasserereignis 2013: Die Boize, Sude und Elbe bei Boizenburg im UNESCO-Biosphärenreservat Flusslandschaft Elbe M-V. © D. Foitlänger
Flood 2013: Boize, Sude, Elbe near Boizenburg.


  • Central Europe's third largest river, the Elbe, and the seven tributaries Sude, Schaale, Boize, Krainke, Röcknitz, Löcknitz and Elde flow through a 10-20 km wide river valley, today's natural water meadow, in the southwest of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
  • The close intermeshing of wetlands (flood and smoke water areas, bracks, oxbow lakes, low and dune valleys) with dry biotopes (steep bank slopes, inland dunes, heaths, dykes) and the remains of natural riverside and quarry forests are especially noteworthy.
  • Ice Age mountain ranges on the edge of the urstromtal: the Rüterberg near Dömitz, the Vierwald near Boizenburg (more than 60m above sea level) and the Vellahner Berge (the highest point is the Forstberg at 87m above sea level)
  • Inland dune areas: near Boizenburg (Gothmann), Lübheen (Lübheener Heide) and Dömitz (Klein Schmölen, 28m above the valley floodplain and ca 45m above sea level)
  • During floods, the Elbe regularly overflows its banks and reaches a width of up to 2km between the dykes.
Wasserralle (Rallus aquaticus) im UNESCO-Biosphärenreservat Flusslandschaft Elbe M-V © W. Stürzbecher
Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)

Animal and plant species

  • Bats: 11 species
  • Amphibians: 11 species
  • Birds: 228 (breeding birds as well as resting and winter guests)
  • Fish and cyclostomata: 28 species
  • Ferns and flowering plants: over 1,300 species (in the cross-state UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Elbe River Landscape)
Die Deich- und Polderlandschaft der Teldau ist eine wertvolle Kulturlandschaft im UNESCO-Biosphärenreservat Flusslandschaft Elbe M-V. © D. Foitlänger
Dyke and polder landscapes in Teldau.


Core zone: 1,493 ha (3.24%)
Long-term development of nature without anthropogenic influence, so that wilderness can rise again. 

Maintenance zone: 7,922 ha (17.19%)
Valuable ecosystems in the cultural landscape are preserved through considered land use. Sections of the cultural landscape that are particularly worth protecting. 

Development zone: 36,677 ha (79.57%)
Living, economic and recreational space.
The focus here is on balanced, environmentally friendly regional development.