UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Spreewald

Where the Forest Is Reflected in the Water

A landscape which is unique for Central Europe can be found 100 kilometres southeast of Berlin: the Spreewald. As a result of the last Ice Age around 12,000 years ago, the river Spree divided into an extensive network of small channels, forming a large inland delta with extensive wet meadows.

The area and its waterways do not only offer space for storks, otters or dragonflies, but has been used by humans for centuries, creating small yards distributed like a mosaic in the landscape. The traditionals ways of life and work, which are closely connected with the near-natural floodplain landscape, have partly been preserved until today. In the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, the Spreewald represents the habitats of wetland and wetland meadows, riverside meadows and rivers.

Around 50,000 people live and work in the biosphere reserve in 37 villages and two towns. Strong networks have been established with land users, associations and municipalities. A system of 32 permanent observation spots of the "Ecosystem Environmental Monitoring" is continuously collecting data in the biosphere reserve on the basis of a scientific concept, making the results available for sustainable land use.

Contributions to sustainable development

With a share of organic farming of 70 percent, the Spreewald occupies the top position in this regard both nationally and internationally. Production and marketing of certified regional products under the umbrella brand “Spreewald” is a priority. This is supported by the approach “Spreewald Region free of genetic engineering". Two products – cucumber and horseradish – also bear the quality seal of the European Union, the EU Protected Geographical Indication. Spreewald linseed oil and milk are also typical and well-known cross Germany.

About three million tourists visit the Spreewald every year, they come for boat trips, paddling, cycling and hiking – they seek and find nature and quietness instead of spectacle. Tourism has a long tradition in the region and contributes significantly to value creation and job security. The designation as UNESCO biosphere reserve is an important motivation for almost 10 percent of tourists to visit the region.

Education for sustainable development is pursued through innovative pilot projects, for example exploring the Spreewald by the help of new media.

International partnerships

Partnerships exists with the De Werribben National Park in the Netherlands and the Narew National Park in Poland. Over the years, the managers of the biosphere reserve have provided significant support to Myanmar in establishing the Indawgyi Lake Biosphere Reserve, which received UNESCO designation in 2017.


  • Year of designation: 1991
  • State/Province: Brandenburg Size: 475 km²
  • Size: 475 km² (102 km² core area and 931 km² buffer zone)
  • Represented landscape area: North German Old Drift
  • Website: www.spreewald-biosphaerenreservat.de