UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Schaalsee

Resting Place for Migratory Birds

The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Schaalsee is located in the Mecklenburg region between the urban centers of Hamburg, Lübeck and Schwerin. The Schaalsee was formed by glaciers of the last Ice Age and is one of the deepest lakes in Germany.

Islands, bays and extensive reed areas characterize the Schaalsee. The great diversity of animals and plants is related to the history of the place: During the division of Germany, the inner-German border ran through the lake so that nature could develop untroubled. Today, hiking and cycling trails lead through beech forests, peat bogs and wet meadows, commercial timberland, pastures and fields. Representative habitats for the world network of biosphere reserves are beech forests, calcareous lakes, and swamps.

The people of the region have succeeded in turning the landscape around Lake Schaalsee from a tourist no-man's-land into a popular holiday region. The overriding goal is to respect nature so that this biosphere reserve remains a resting place for nature, and in particular migratory birds.

Contributions to sustainable development

In addition to promoting nature-friendly tourism under the umbrella of a regional brand, one focus has been the successful development of the "Job Engine Biosphere". Also, over 100 owners now use the patent-protected regional brand "Für Leib und Seele" (For body and soul) - including farm shops, craftsmen, holiday apartments and tourism providers. Every first Sunday of each month from April to November, the Biosphere Schaalsee Market takes place in Zarrentin.

Recently, several peat bogs (e.g. Roggendorfer Moor) have been restored, fields converted, fruit trees planted, fish ladders built, and small waters and streams (e.g. shields, moor channels) rehabilitated. With funding from the German Commission for UNESCO and Danone Waters Germany, a drainage pond was constructed in 2017 to counteract the increasing contamination of the lake with nutrients from intensive agriculture and thus improve water quality of the lake.

Education for sustainable development is another focus of the work. There are numerous offers for kindergartens, primary schools and vocational schools, such as a simulation game on the wolf, a biosphere passport, the “aqua agents” or a climate rally.

International Partnerships

Since 2017, the Schaalsee Biosphere Reserve has started a partnership with the Lake Bosomtwe Biosphere Reserve in Ghana. Priorities of the cooperation include the promotion of tourism and education for sustainable development.

In addition, the Schaalsee Biosphere Reserve has supported the 2017 designation of the UNESCO Lake Indawgyi Biosphere Reserve in Myanmar in the areas of participatory fisheries management, regulation of water tourism, and education for sustainable development.


  • Year of designation: 2000
  • State/Province: Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
  • Size: 310 km² (19 km² core area and 89.6 km² buffer zone)
  • Represented landscape area: Baltic beech forest area
  • Website: www.schaalsee.de