The Biosphere Reserve - Facts and Figures

The Schaalsee landscape consists of a green mosaic of quiet forests, clear lakes, moors, fields and pastures. The marks of many generations are visible in avenues and hedge-lined paths, picturesque villages and small towns. The 24km² large Schaalsee is the centre of the Biosphere Reserve and gives it its name. The inner-German border once ran through the Schaalsee.

Diagram: use of land in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Schaalsee
Schaalsee bei Zarrentin, Blick vom Wasser auf die Uferpromenade © S. Hoffmeister
Schaalsee near Zarrentin

Federal state: Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

Districts: Ludwigslust-Parchim, Northwest Mecklenburg

Area size: 31,000 ha (310 km²)

Expansion: North / South: ca. 32 km; East / West: ca. 12 km

Inhabitants: More than 10,000 people live in the 22 communities of the Biosphere Reserve.

Kühe auf einer extensiven Weide © E. Dornblut
Extensive pasture-based farming

Use of land

arable land   4,900 ha 48 %
forest   6,100 ha 20 %
grassland   5,900 ha 19 %
inland waters      2,000 ha   6 %
settlement and traffic   1,000 ha   3 %
woods, swamp, reed   1,000 ha   3 %
other       100 ha   1 %
total 31,000 ha  
Kleingewässer im Biosphärenreservat Schaalsee © B. Gebhard
Still waters


  • The largest lake in the Biosphere Reserve is the Schaalsee with 24km²
  • Followed by the Röggeliner See with a size of 1.7km²
  • The third largest lake is the Mechower See with 1.6km²
  • There are nine other lakes and many small bodies of water in the Biosphere Reserve.
  • There are five rivers: Boize, Schilde, Schaale, Hammerbach, Kneeser Bek
  • The highest point with 93m above sea level is the Hellberg.
Ein klassisch bunter Stieglitz in einer Wiese. © M. Hippke
The European goldfinch is one of 263 bird species in the Biosphere Reserve.

Animal and plant species

  • Mammals: 46 species including 11 bat species
  • Amphibians: 11 species
  • Dragonflies: 55 species
  • Birds: 263 (breeding birds as well as resting and winter guests)
  • Fish and cyclostomata : 33 species
  • Fern and flowering plants: 869 species
  • Mushrooms: over 1,000 species
Totholz im herbstlichen Buchenwald © M. Hippke
Deadwood in a beech forest during autumn.


Core zone: 1,749 ha, 5.6%
Long-term development of nature without anthropogenic influence, so that wilderness can rise again. 

Maintenance zone: 9,257 ha, 29.9%
Valuable ecosystems in the cultural landscape are preserved through considered land use. Sections of the cultural landscape that are particularly worth protecting. 

Development zone: 19,994 ha, 64.5%
Living, economic and recreational space.
The focus here is on balanced, environmentally friendly regional development.