The German Green Belt
343 kilometers of nature, culture and history - the green belt
Variety, biodiversity, experience, culture and history are just a few of the words that come to mind when thinking of the German Green Belt. The German Green Belt has a length of 1,400 kilometers. It crosses all of Germany's landscapes, with the exception of the Alpine area and the Alpine foothills - from the Baltic Sea to the Saxon-Bavarian Vogtland. As a nature reserve, it offers a home to 1,200 endangered species and is a reminder of the division of Germany.
The Green Belt is a lifeline and a piece of wilderness with great and worth seeing biotopes: old grass fields, bush and forest paradises, swamps, blooming heaths, natural rivers and crystal clear lakes. It is a colorful mosaic of diverse habitats. And it is precisely this fact that makes the Green Belt attractive to tourists from near and far. It is the abundance of nature, the search for the last wilderness in Germany, the experience of places steeped in history … the GREEN BELT EXPERIENCE.
Since 2005, the BUND is cooperating wird the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) to protection of the Green Belt. It is not only preserved as a retreat for endangered animals and plants , but also carefully developed as a natural experience space.
From 2007 to 2011, three model regions in Germany were able to implement the idea under the motto “Green Belt Experience”. The four-country corner between the Elbe, Altmark and Wendland was one of the three selected model regions, along with the Harz National Park and the Thuringian Forest, Slate Mountains and Franconian Forest nature parks.
One focus in the four-country corner was on various protection and maintenance measures in the Green Belt. They were primarily carried out in places where valuable habitats were impaired in the past or threatened to disappear.
Heath, dry grass and open sand dunes are also among the ecologically valuable habitats in the Green Belt. Due to increasing pine forest and shrubbery, these areas are impaired in their nature conservation value in many places. Maintenance measures such as de-bushing and removing the pine growth were able to put a stop to this negative development. Successes have been achieved here, for example, in the pine forest areas north of the Arendsee and on the inland dunes along the Elbe. In the meantime, various endangered species such as the blue-winged wasteland insect or the harlequin spider have settled here.
In order to bring nature, history and culture closer to the locals and visitors on the Green Belt, 50 different “borderline experience points” were developed along the Green Belt. This includes, for example, a newly developed border tower at the Lenzen ferry terminal. The border experience points were linked via the approx. 190 km long four-country border cycle path as well as some regional hiking and cycling routes. Guided excursions to resting and sleeping places for Nordic geese, swans and cranes were offered under the motto “Fascination Bird Migration”. 30 tour guides from the region took part in further training and were able to familiarize themselves with the various facets of the Green Belt.
In cooperation with schools and leisure facilities, special project weeks were created for children and young people, and schoolchildren also worked with artists from the region to depict selected aspects of the Green Belt using self-made art objects.
For politicians, tourism professionals and the general public, the Green Belt has become a term in the region that stands for valuable nature, but also offers that locals and visitors can experience. As a result of the project, districts and some municipalities have joined forces in order to continue the successful cooperation “Green Belt Experience” together with the Lenzen Castle Association and the BUND.
Cycling between the Elbe, Altmark and Wendland
The Green Belt, once the inner German border and death strip, is now an area full of life with a unique history and culture. The Prignitz is located in the four-country corner: the federal states of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg. Diverse landscapes, in which endangered animal and plant species find a protected habitat, make river an Eldorado for nature lovers in the UNESCO biosphere reserve Elbe River Landscape. Signposted border experience points are presenting the way along the 190 kilometer long four-country border cycle path: rare habitats, plants or animals, remnants of Slavic settlements or relics of the German division such as border towers.
- Historical circular route: Amt Neuhaus
- Hitzacker health resort
- The fortress town of Dömitz and the “Village Republic of Rüterberg”
- Lenzen town and castle
- Schnackenburg borderland museum and Streesow memorial
- Arendsee – blue pearl on the green belt
- Salzwedel: Old Hanseatic City
You can find further information in the adventure card:
Exhibition “River Landscape on the Green Belt” at Lenzen Castle
On more than four floors, up to the dome of the medieval castle tower, you will get to know the Elbe river landscape in all its diversity. In addition to typical habitats and rare animal and plant species of the UNESCO biosphere reserve, the exhibition provides insights into historical and current land use, in aspects such as flood protection, shipping and fishing. The central theme of the exhibition is the change in the landscape of the Elbe valley over the centuries. At the interactive multi-touch table in the castle tower, you will get to know the unbelievable variety in the floodplain and find out what other important services it has in store. A screen microscope provides moments of discovery for young and old researchers. A special attraction for young and old is the virtual flight on the back of a wild goose in the tower dome and the fascinating view from the balcony of the Elbe.
Landscape maintenance of a special kind: The Liebenthaler Wildlinge
The newly created flood plains on the Elbe are a paradise for beavers, storks, rare water birds and endangered plants. We would like to invite you to enjoy the new meadow wilderness from the “Auenblick”, a special natural experience point. Located directly on the Elbe dike, it offers special insights into what is currently Germany's largest back-dike area, where the natural alternation of high and low water has once again formed the landscape and a typical mosaic of different habitats has developed the “new” floodplain. Here the flood channels, surrounded by generous pastures and alluvial forest plantings of different ages, shape the landscape. A special attraction are the Liebenthaler Wildlinge, a breed of wild horses that can be observed here as landscapers all year round.
They live all year round in the open air, reproduce and maintain social behavior like wild horses. Once a year they are caught for worming. The animals do not know a farrier; constantly on the move, they naturally wear their hooves. If the toes get too long, they just break away. But humans sometimes have to intervene: In order to avoid inbreeding, the young stallions are removed from the herd. The Liebenthaler horse, whose height is between 130 and 145 cm, is a back-breeding from old European horse breeds such as Fjord horse, Konik and the Przewalski horse towards the tarpan, which died out in the 19th century. The tarpan originally lived in the Eurasian steppe. Complete breeding back is not possible because its genetic makeup was lost with extinction. The Liebenthal horse is named after the Brandenburg village of Liebenthal, where the state government relocated around 80 animals after the breeder's death in 1996.