UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Swabian Alb

Economy and Tourism - More Sustainable Than Almost Anywhere Else

The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Swabian Alb stretches from the Alb mountain plateau with its juniper heaths to the “Albtrauf” (Alb Escarpment) with its hillside and ravine forests, and further on to the Alb foreland with wide orchard meadows. In no other biosphere reserve in Germany there is such a high diversity of landscape, in particular with regards to the structural richness of the forest and open-land areas.

Different geological conditions, varying climatic conditions, as well as divers forms of traditional land use are the reasons. The slopes and ravine forests of the Albtrauf, along with its canyons and Danube side valleys are of particular international importance. In the open countryside, the juniper heaths, which were formed by migratory sheep-farming, are a special feature in their form of low calcareous pastures, low calcareous grasslands and dry grasslands. The orchard meadows of the Alb foothills are also impressive.

Contributions to sustainable development

The UNESCO designation has turned on the spotlight for this region, which was previously considered often as the backyard of the Stuttgart metropolitan region. Many companies now market Alb specialities, the biosphere reserve has over 100 partner companies. These companies are subject to strict criteria, which have clearly defined objectives such as commitment to nature conservation, regional economic cycles, service quality, and the provision of information for guests and customers.

The partner initiative in the Swabian Alb biosphere region is a success story that has played a decisive role in the biosphere region winning the national competition "Sustainable Tourism Destinations" in 2017. Innovative transportation concepts have been developed, such as the “Albhoftour” cycling/hiking biosphere tour as well as a “biosphere bus” that transports visitors and locals across the biosphere reserve. "Biosphere ambassadors" also offer special landscape tours.

Every year in May, the Biosphere Week takes place, making the biosphere reserve and its achievements highly visible. Visitors have the opportunity to experience the idea of the biosphere reserve at over 70 events. Numerous discovery tours, nature experience excursions, and cultural events convey unforgettable impressions. Businesses provide insights into traditional craftsmanship. Regional markets and festivals offer to learn about products from the Alb and enjoy culinary delicacies. Special sport and wellness programmes offer movement and relaxation.

International Cooperation

Shepherds have shaped the landscape for the last hundred years. To share this experience internationally and lead the way for sustainable development, in 2017, the Swabian Alb hosted the first international shepherd conference, with guests from Switzerland and the Netherlands.


  • Year of designation: 2009
  • State/Province: Baden-Württemberg
  • Size: total 850 km² (26 km² core area and 354 km² buffer zone)
  • Represented landscape: Southwest German Scarpland, Mid-Section European Jura Mountains
  • Website: www.biosphaerengebiet-alb.de