Bavarian way of life Jul 15, 2016

Experience Bavaria – UNESCO biosphere reserves in the State of Bavaria

Tourism is booming in Bavaria. Particularly, it's the impressive landscape which entices many guests to come to Bavaria in summer and winter alike. Among others, the two UNESCO biosphere reserves in Bavaria preserve this landscape and ensure that it is sustainably farmed.


Human and nature as one

Sustainable development is the top priority in the UNESCO model regions. In these biosphere reserves – unlike in “traditional” nature reserves – the human plays a central role in this development. In essence, it is about the relationship between nature and man, in which the latter acts as a creator and sustainer. Important aspects of this are the protection of natural and cultural diversity, sustainable development, education and communication as well as research and environmental observation. In line with these requirements, all reserves are split into a core, a buffer and a development zone which are classified by how intensively they are being farmed.

The UNESCO reserves serve as a global network for exchanging knowledge and experiences. The basis for this is the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme MAB, which has existed since 1971 and supports about 670 reserves in over 100 countries. These include 15 German reserves, two of which are in Bavaria.

Rhön and the Berchtesgadener Land

One of these reserves is the Berchtesgadener Land in the southeast of the State of Bavaria near the Austrian border. With its representative part of the Northern Limestone Alps and their foothills, the Berchtesgadener Land is the only UNESCO alpine biosphere reserve. Recognised as a reserve since 1990, it underwent a comprehensive expansion in 2010 and now includes eight cities, markets and municipalities, some of which are popular tourist destinations such as Berchtesgaden and Bad Reichenhall. The protected core zone of the Berchtesgadener Land largely consists of the Berchtesgaden National Park, a tourist magnet and with a breath-taking landscape and its unique, 2,713 meter high Watzmann.


The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Rhön is located at the opposite end of Bavaria: It is located at the border triangle of Bavaria, Hessen and Thuringia and therefore unites three states in a joint effort for sustainable development. In terms of surface area, Bavaria holds the largest area of the reserve with around 50 percent, which is about the size of Saarland. Six rural districts and 94 municipalities are part of the reserve. It was already clear in 1991 – shortly after the German reunification – that the three states would apply for UNESCO status together. In 2014, the biosphere reserve was expanded by 22 Bavarian municipalities, which can be seen as a confirmation of the outstanding work of all those involved. Here too, the core zone is a nature conservation area, nearly 4,000 hectares of which are in Bavaria. The UNESCO biosphere reserve Rhön attracts not only with a large number of events where visitors can experience the region and its people, such as hiking tours on certified premium hiking trails like the “Hochrhön” path, wilderness weekends or guided tours through the high moor with its rich cultural offerings and a wide range of regional quality products.

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