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The Biosphere Reserve ‘Niedersächsische Elbtalaue’ (Lower Saxonian Elbe Valley)

The Biosphere Reserve ‘Niedersächsische Elbtalaue’ (Lower Saxonian Elbe Valley), which was created on the basis of a unanimous decision by the Lower Saxonian State Parliament in 2002, represents Lower Saxony’s contribution to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve ‘Flusslandschaft Elbe’ (Elbe River Landscape).

It stretches for about 100 kilometres south-east of Hamburg – to be exact, between Elbe-km 472.5 at Schnackenburg to Elbe-km 569 at Lauenburg, with the height above sea-level falling from 109 m to 5 m. It constitutes part of the Elbe River Landscape Biosphere Reserve, which was recognized by the UNESCO in 1997 and covers 3,430 km², stretching across several states. The Lower Saxonian section was created by act of the State Parliament (designation: NElbtBRG) on 23.11.2002 with a total area of 567.6 km². It is divided into three zones: Zone A (16,540 ha), Zone B (20,100 ha) and Zone C (20,120 ha). In Zone C, at least 1,708 ha of state owned land are still to be declared as areas of natural dynamics.

Naturally enough, the main influence on the landscape is exercised by the river Elbe with its near-natural banks and the extensive stretches of land within the dykes. These meadowlands are still regularly flooded at times of high water. The dykes form the dividing line between the present day flood-meadows and what used to be the Elbe marshes in pre-dyke days. In addition to the Elbe, several tributaries such as the Aland, the Seege and the Jeetzel make their contributions to forming this lowland marsh landscape.

The borders of the valleys are characterized in many parts by post ice age sandy areas and dunes. Here there are extensive lichen-rich pinewoods, open stretches of sand and dry grasslands. In some places the river flows close to glacial moraines dating from the last ice age. These are up to 70 m high, and usually wooded with beeches and oaks.

The aim of the Elbe River Landscape Biosphere Reserve is to preserve and develop this floodplain landscape with its unique scenery and its cultural, social and economic values and functions in a way which serves the needs of both man and nature.

glacial moraines

The river flows close to glacial moraines

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