UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Berchtesgadener Land

Mountains, Lakes and Magnificent Alpine Foothills

The Berchtesgadener Land is a tourist magnet in the Northern Limestone Alps, 150 km south-east of Munich at the border to Austria, with world-famous sights such as Mount Watzmann and Königssee. It is the only alpine biosphere reserve in Germany. The Berchtesgaden National Park forms the core area and buffer zone of the biosphere reserve, it is home to edelweiss, gentian, groundhog, chamois and golden eagle.

The transition area extends over alpine cultural landscapes, hilly moraine landscapes and into the wide wetlands of river Salzach. Characterised by small-scale agriculture, the biosphere reserve is characterised by a high level of biodiversity and landscape aesthetics.

In the world network of biosphere reserves, the Berchtesgadener Land represents the habitats of mixed mountain forests, alpine pastures and meadows, rocky meadows, dwarf shrub heathlands, lakes and ponds, lowland peat bogs, lowland as well as wet meadows, as well as lowland and mountain hay meadows.

Promoting sustainable development

In the biosphere reserve, a focus is on preserving and developing sustainable forestry and mountain farming, as well as supporting of stakeholders of the region on their way towards sustainable ways of life and sustainable economies. New concepts for (alpine) tourism are being developed, especially with a focus on sustainable holiday offers and the possibility of having a positive impact on the environment during the holiday itself. About 100,000 people live in the biosphere reserve, which depends very much on tourism. The biosphere reserve also promotes a local high-growing variety of wheat whose cultivation offers habitat to many endangered plants and animals. In a wild bee project flower meadows are created, in another project local seed are multiplied.

In 2017, the biosphere reserve was recognised by the German Commission for UNESCO and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research for its work as a learning location for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). In addition to permanent programmes for schools, kindergartens, children's groups, adults and multipliers, the educational work of the biosphere region also includes individual events for various target groups on specific ESD themes.

International cooperation

The biosphere reserve has been collaborating across borders with biosphere reserves in Austria (Salzburger Lungau/Kärntner Nockberge, Großes Walsertal), and Switzerland (Entlebuch, Biosfera Val Müstair/Engadin), on the priority areas of education, local varieties of crops, wild habitats, and participation of local communities and identification with the biosphere reserves. Several of these projects have also been supported by the EU.


  • Year of designation: 1990 (extension/renaming 2010)
  • State/Province: Bavaria
  • Size: 840 km² (139 km² core area and 95.4 km² buffer zone)
  • Represented landscape: Northern Limestone Alps including foothills
  • Website: www.brbgl.de