UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Upper Lausitz Heath and Pond Landscape

Centuries-old Fish Farming; and Germany's Most Beautiful Meadow

Northeast of Dresden lies the largest contiguous pond area in Germany: the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Upper Lausitz Heath and Pond Landscape. Characteristic features are the great diversity of different habitats in a small area and an extraordinary diversity of species due to the transition from Atlantic to continental climate.

Since the 13th century, mainly carp have been fished in the ponds and bred for the Saxon court. The region has been inhabited by the West Slavic Sorbian people since the 6th century, who have been able to preserve their traditional customs and language to this day. The history of Lusatia remains alive in around 60 villages, including former manor houses, small castles, and parks.

In the world network of biosphere reserve, the Upper Lusatian Heath and Pond Landscape represents the habitats of ponds, moors, heaths, pine forests, and river meadows. Almost half of the area is wooded. "Germany's most beautiful meadow", the gladiola meadow in the Dauban Forest, won the 2017 Nature Wonder Competition of the Heinz Sielmann Foundation and Europarc Germany. The rare Turkish marsh gladiolus now has 18 known occurrences in the biosphere reserve, a great success in protecting orchids and gladiolas. The biosphere reserve is home to 150 endangered plant species and 150 breeding bird species such as cranes, hoopoe and bittern. White-tailed eagles can be observed from the 88-kilometre-long white-tailed eagle cycle path, and the largest otter population in Germany is to be found here. The wolf spread from here in Upper Lusatia to large parts of Germany since the year 2000; today, several packs of wolves live in the biosphere reserve.

Contributions to sustainable development

In recent years, the focus has been, among other things, on strengthening tourism, including through targeted marketing and public relations work. A special highlight for tourists are the autumn fishing festivals. The biosphere reserve also supports Sorbian culture. During the annual nature markets in spring and autumn, an extensive Sorbian cultural programme is offered along with local products. Many public inscriptions are also available in Sorbian, for example at the "House of a Thousand Ponds", the information centre of the biosphere reserve.

Another priority of the biosphere reserve will be the restoration of the Spree river ecosystem. This "River of Berlin" runs in its upper reaches across the biosphere reserve.

Education for sustainable development plays an important role, too. A wide variety of activities such as excursions, seminars, and holiday camps are tailored to the needs of specific target groups. In "Seminars for everyone", the correct pruning of a fruit tree can be practiced by the children themselves.

International partnerships

The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Upper Lusatia Heath and Pond Landscape is in close contact with the Trebon Biosphere Reserve in the Czech Republic.


  • Year of designation: 1996
  • State/Province: Saxony
  • Size: 301 km² (of which 11 km² core area and 120 km² buffer zone)
  • Represented landscape: Upper Lausitz Heath and Pond Landscape (Eastern Saxony)
  • Website: www.biosphaerenreservat-oberlausitz.de