In accordance with legal requirements, three types of protection zone have been defined within the biosphere reserve which are referred to as zones A, B and C. The most highly protected areas should fulfil the criteria which apply to German nature reserves throughout most of their extent. The remaining areas should, in the main, fulfil the criteria for landscape protection areas. This zoning concept has been implemented for the Lower Saxonian Elbe Valley region.
Zone A generally covers the urban areas together with other areas which are particularly subject to human influence. These are the areas where the inhabitants live and spend most of their working time and they are correspondingly heavily ‘usage oriented’. However, the zone A areas also function as connecting elements between the zones B and C.
Zone B includes areas which are clearly part of the cultivated landscape, and yet the habitats involved also have characteristic associations with the truly natural conditions which would otherwise prevail. This terrain is to be conserved and developed with the aim of achieving a functioning, natural balance which serves both people seeking recreation and the countryside itself. Zone B fulfils the criteria which apply to a landscape protection area.
Finally, zone C is reserved for those areas of the biosphere reserve which are especially worthy of preservation and care. The criteria involved correspond to those which apply to nature reserves, and all previous nature reserves of the region have been adopted into zone C. They include, for instance, the Lower Seege Lowlands and the Upper Seege Lowlands as well as the Pevestorf Meadows and the Taube Elbe near Penkefitz.
Zone C contains ‘natural’ habitats in the sense that they represent conditions close to those which would exist in the complete absence of human intervention. However, there are many areas which need to be tended regularly so that they can continue to fulfil their function as a refuge for individual species or ecological communities of wild plants and animals. Other habitats such as bodies of water, wetlands, moors and woods can be left largely to themselves.
Zone C includes for instance the Pevestorf Meadows