A Naturschutzgebiet (abbreviated NSG) is a category of protected area (nature reserve) within Germany's Federal Nature Conservation Act (the Bundesnaturschutzgesetz or BNatSchG).[1] Although often translated as 'Nature Reserve' in English, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) refers to them as 'Nature Conservation Areas'.[2]

Nsg klaedener plage mildenitz 039
Nature reserve sign in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

Points of law

The use of the term Naturschutzgebiet or terms that could be confused with it for anything other than the legally protected areas is forbidden under this law.


Because legal restrictions are placed on activity within German nature reserves they have to be signed on the ground. Only by this means can e.g. walkers know that they are entering a nature reserve and may not e.g. leave the tracks and paths. For historical reasons there is no standard sign used across Germany.

Nature reserves in the "old states" of the Federal Republic of Germany are marked by green signs with the silhouette of a white-tailed eagle. In the new federal states of the former East Germany they are marked with a pentagonal yellow sign bearing an image of a long-eared owl. The reunification of Germany the 36th Environmental Minister's Conference in 1991 recommended the use of the owl symbol in future in the whole of Germany to designate nature reserves. This recommendation was not universally adopted by the states, in whom the jurisdiction for conservation policy was vested. For that reason there are de facto three different signs being used alongside one another in Germany today.

  • Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Saxony use the owl on a pentagon, Saxony-Anhalt employing a white background instead of the usual yellow.
  • Berlin, Lower Saxony and Bremen use the owl in a green triangle.
  • Hamburg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, the Saarland, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria use the white-tailed eagle in a green triangle.

Owl on pentagonal sign

Naturschutzgebiet Niedersachsen

New sign with long-eared owl

Naturschutzgebiet altes Schild

Old sign with white-tailed eagle

Nature reserves in Germany

Schild eines Naturschutzgebiets
Old sign (only in West Germany) on a nature reserve, with a description, decrees and prohibitions

At the end of 2008 there were 8,413 nature reserves in Germany with a total area of 1,271,582 hectares. That corresponds to 3.6% of the area of Germany.[3] The lowest percentage areas are in the states of Hesse (1.8%) and Rhineland-Palatinate (1.9%). The percentage coverage in the "old" and "new" states is identical. About 60% of all nature reserves are smaller than 50 hectares in area. In such small areas experts say that the achievement of conservation goals is at risk, because negative influences from the surrounding area cannot be sufficiently mitigated. The number and size of nature reserves has increased considerably in recent decades. In 1995 there were only 5,314 Naturschutzgebiete in Germany with an area of 6,845 km2. Even the current coverage is seen by experts as too low to preserve the variety of species in Germany.

The following lists detail the nature reserves by state:

See also


  1. ^ "Gesetz über Naturschutz und Landschaftspflege" (PDF). Bundesministerium der Justiz. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Naturschutzgebiete: Naturschutzgebiete in Deutschland und den Bundesländern". Bundesamt für Naturschutz. Archived from the original on 2017-06-06. Retrieved 2011-05-26. – Mit Stand 12/2008 verfügt Deutschland über 8413 Naturschutzgebiete. Die Naturschutzgebietsfläche in Deutschland beträgt 1.271.582 ha. Dies entspricht 3,6 % der Gesamtfläche.
Alte Röder Nature Reserve

The Alte Röder Nature Reserve (German: Naturschutzgebiet Alte Röder bei Prieschka) lies on the left bank of the Black Elster river between the village of Prieschka in the municipality of Bad Liebenwerda and the village of Würdenhain which belongs to Röderland. It is located within the Lower Lusatian Heath Nature Park (Naturpark Niederlausitzer Heidelandschaft), which covers an area of 484 km². The lowland valley of the Röder stream has been protected since 1981 and contains one of the most settled colonies of the Elbe Beaver, a species of beaver threatened by extinction. One of its main conservation aims is the preservation and development of this area as a habitat for the Elbe Beaver and other endangered species.

The roughly 80-hectare nature reserve extends along the river course of the Alte Röder ("Old Röder") which was originally an old riverbed of the Black Elster between Würdenhain and Prieschka and, during the period of Elster Regulation (1852 to 1864) to the First World War was used to channel the Große Röder river. The area of the old confluence of the Alte Röder with the Black Elster is known as the Gänsewinkel ("Goose Corner"). It is located northeast of Prieschka in the immediate vicinity of the point where the Landesstraße 593 crosses the Black Elster.

Bauerngraben (Harz)

The Bauerngraben, also called the Hungersee, is a lake in Germany between Breitungen, Agnesdorf and Roßla in the South Harz. It is an intermittent lake of about 350 metres in length and 100 metres in width, into which the Glasebach disappears. A feature of this lake is its sudden disappearance from time to time, when the outlet opens due to the removal of material. The lake can then become dry for a long period. The Bauerngraben ist part of the Gipskarstlandschaft Questenberg nature reserve.

The Karst Trail runs through the area. The Bauerngraben is a popular destination for day trippers and is easy to reach due to the nearby car park and easy footpaths. There is a checkpoint (no. 213) in the Harzer Wandernadel hiking system by the lake.

Bay of Pomerania (nature reserve)

The Bay of Pomerania Nature Reserve (German: Naturschutzgebiet Pommersche Bucht) is a coastal region east of the German island of Rügen in Germany's exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf of the Baltic Sea. It was created on 15 September 2005 by the Red-Green federal government and, together with the Sylt Outer Reef Nature Reserve (Naturschutzgebiet Sylter Außenriff), is one of the few nature reserves established by the federation.


The Brombachmoor is a nature reserve in the Franconian Lake District in the Middle Franconian county of Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen in the German state of Bavaria.

The fen lies west of the Kleiner Brombachsee lake between the villages of Langlau and Absberg, near the Hühnermühle and Neuherberg in the parish of Thannhausen. Since 3 November 1983 it has been a designated Naturschutzgebiet with an area of 3.56 hectares, and thus the smallest nature reserve in the county. Since the flooding of the little Brombachsee in 1985 the area has become the last surviving remains of the natural Brombach valley.Through the bog flows the Brombach, the stream that gives it its name, and which empties into the Altmühlüberleiter ("Old Mill Diversion Channel") around 250 metres to the southeast. The roughly 700-metre-long trough-shaped valley is covered in alder carr woods and riparian woodland as well as small pools known as Tümpeln. Between the sedge hummocks there are bulrushes, peat mosses, dogbanes, sedges und rushes.

Eching am Ammersee

Eching am Ammersee is a municipality in the district of Landsberg in Bavaria in Germany. It has a size of 6.15km^2.Situated at the northern shore of the Ammersee at an elevation of 541m, it borders the Naturschutzgebiet "Ampermoos" and the wooded recreation area "Weingarten".

Felsenberg-Berntal Nature Reserve

The Felsenberg-Berntal Nature Reserve (German: Naturschutzgebiet Felsenberg-Berntal), is an outlier of the Haardt mountains, which form the eastern ridge of the Palatine Forest region in western Germany. The nature reserve, which extends into the Upper Rhine Plain and has an area of 300 hectares, was established in January 2000 by a statute dated 20 December 1999. The reserve lies in the county of Bad Durkheim in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate and comprises the Felsenberg hill and the Berntal valley. The Herxheim Karst Cave on one of its hillsides is known for its archaeological and biological finds.

Goor-Muglitz Nature Reserve

The Goor-Muglitz Nature Reserve (German: Naturschutzgebiet Goor-Muglitz) is a nature reserve, covering an area of 157 hectares, in the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. It lies on the island of Rügen on the northern coastline of the Bay of Greifswald. It was granted protected status on 12 September 1990 as part of the creation of the Southeast Rügen Biosphere Reserve. The conservation aim of the two-part nature reserve is, on the one hand, the preservation and development of a deciduous forest of old trees in the Goor forest and the preservation of Freetz Lowland (Freetzer Niederung) and, on the other hand, the protection of a steep wooded slope near Muglitz, which is interspersed with wild fruit trees. The areas are in conservation zone 2 (buffer zone) of the biosphere reserve. The rocky shallow areas of the bay are also a protected area.

The neighbouring villages are Lauterbach to the west and Freetz to the north.

The status of the area is classified as "good" as the areas are able to develop largely undisturbed. However, interventions are being carried out to mitigate the effects of the past; such effects as the planting of conifers in some areas and the drainage of Freetz Lowland.

Parts of the areas are owned by the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Foundation for the Environment and Conservation as well as the Michael Succow Foundation.

Under EU law, the nature reserve is part of the SAC known as Southeast Rügen Coastal Landscape (Küstenlandschaft Südostrügen). Access to the nature reserve is possible using several public footpaths. The Succow Foundation has set up a nature trail.


Hartelholz is a 115-hectare (280-acre) forest in the north of Munich, Germany.

It is located north of the Panzerwiese in the boroughs of Feldmoching-Hasenbergl and Milbertshofen-Am Hart.

It is classified as a Naturschutzgebiet protected area.

Kösterbeck (nature reserve)

Kösterbeck (German: Naturschutzgebiet Kösterbeck) is a nature reserve in the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, which was established in 1986. Its territory was expanded in 1990 and reduced on 13 June 1995. It derives its name from a stream flowing from east to west through the area, also called the Kösterbeck, a tributary of the Warnow.

Its conservation aim is to preserve and develop the very undulating and varied moraine landscape of Rostock Switzerland with a stream system and adjoining lean pasture, spring bogs and wet meadows.

Lüneburg Heath Nature Reserve

The Lüneburg Heath Nature Reserve (German: Naturschutzgebiet Lüneburger Heide) is one of the oldest and largest nature reserves (Naturschutzgebiete or NSGs) in Germany, and the oldest and largest in Lower Saxony. It was first established on 29 December 1921 when an area of four square miles was declared a nature park by the Prussian government.

Lüneburg Kalkberg

The Lüneburg Kalkberg (not to be confused with the Segeberger Kalkberg) is the cap rock of a salt dome in the western part of the German town of Lüneburg. The Kalkberg was a gypsum mine during the middle ages, but is today a Naturschutzgebiet (nature reserve) and a common meeting place for city residents.

Naturschutzgebiet Leutratal und Cospoth

NSG Leutratal und Cospoth (often referred to simply as Leutratal) is an important nature reserve in Germany, southwest of the town of Jena. The reserve is maintained by Naturschutzbund Deutschland. The reserve contains the valley of the river Leutra and beech forest. The nature reserve measures 582.9 hectares. The bedrock is Muschelkalk (limestone). In 2018, 23% of the reserve was pine forest and 16% broadleaf trees, 23% was xerothermic meadow, 9% brome semi-dry grassland and 14% agricultural use.A huge variety of wildflowers grow in the valley, including at least 26 species of orchids. Other flowers in the reserve include Carthusian pink, purple gromwell and liquorice milk-vetch.

In 2007 the protected area was expanded by 441.4 hectares from its initial size of 141.5 hectares. During the Nazi era a motorway (the A4) was built through the valley, however Angela Merkel's government had a 3 kilometre road tunnel built in 2014 (Jagdbergtunnel) to expand capacity of the Autobahn while reducing the impact of the road on the nature reserve.The results of this work have so far been mixed. The burial of the Autobahn led to invasive non-native plant species including Bunias orientalis (Turkish rocket) colonising the bare ground, which it is feared threaten to displace native wildflowers, however it has also already been observed that more bats (including Rhinolophus hipposideros) are visiting the valley.

Nieklitzer Moor Nature Reserve

Naturschutzgebiet Nieklitzer Moor (Nieklitzer Moor Nature reserve) is a 53 hectare broad Naturschutzgebiet in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. It is located to the southwest of Zarrentin am Schaalsee, north of Gallin and was established on March 21, 1977. The purpose of this reserve is protection and development of largely nutrient poor mire. The field condition currently has an unsatisfactory assessment. Profound drainage measures are adversely affecting this area and lead to almost completely removing peat-like vegetation. An inspection in the protected areas is not possible.

Pohnstorf Moor

The Pohnstorf Moor Nature Reserve (German: Naturschutzgebiet Pohnstorfer Moor) is a nature reserve in the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. It lies in the southwest of the Klützer Winkel ("Klütz Corner") in the district of Nordwestmecklenburg.

The nature reserve has an area of 33 hectares and covers parts of the parishes of Roggenstorf (Gemarkung Grevenstein) and Damshagen (Gemarkungen Welzin and Pohnstorf) and was established on 27 June 2005 under the official number N 326. Its aim is the permanent protection, preservation and development of a biotope complex comprising partly wooded, alkaline fens (Kalkflachmooren), damp and wet meadows and hillocks of calcareous grassland.

The region was previously extensively farmed, predominantly as cattle pasture and hay meadows, and is therefore especially rich in species that like damp and wet meadows, including endangered species of plants and animals and even those threatened by extinction.

Priwall Peninsula

The Priwall Peninsula (German: die Halbinsel Priwall or Der Priwall) is a spit located across from the town of Travemünde at the Trave River estuary, on Germany's Baltic Sea coast. Since 1226 it has been administratively part of Travemünde, itself controlled by Lübeck.

The southern part has been designated a nature reserve (Naturschutzgebiet Südlicher Priwall). The Priwall is the eastern terminus of a bicycle path, opened in 1995, that begins at the Danish border at the town of Kruså. More famously, it is the northern terminus of the former inner German border, and a few remnants of the border fortifications have been preserved near the beach.

The Priwall's principal attraction is otherwise the four-masted barque Passat (now a museum ship) of the Flying P Line – which also included the four-masted barque Priwall.

The beaches of the Priwall at the Bay of Lübeck were the site of a former annual sand festival called Sand World.

Schloss Elmau

Schloss Elmau, built by the philosopher and theologian Johannes Müller between 1914 and 1916, is a four-story national monument with hipped roof, tower and porch, situated between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Mittenwald in a sanctuary of the Bavarian Alps, Germany. It lies at the foot of the Wetterstein mountains in a Naturschutzgebiet (nature reserve), belonging to the Krün municipality.

Schmachter See and Fangerien Nature Reserve

The Schmachter See and Fangerien Nature Reserve (German: Naturschutzgebiet Schmachter See und Fangerien) is a nature reserve in the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and covers an area of 262 hectares. It was placed under conservation protection on 7 December 1994 with the goal of preserving and cultivating a section of the East Rügen hill country together with a silted lake and adjacent wet meadows, bogs and woods.

The lake of Schmachter See lies immediately southwest of Binz. The village of Schmacht that lent the lake its name lies near the western shore of the lake. The nature reserve borders to the south on the parish of Serams and the B 196 federal road. The Fangerien is a beech wood on the northwestern shore of the lake. The condition of the woods is graded as "good". The poor state of the Schmachter See was improved as part of a major conservation project, the East Rügen Bodden Country (Ostrügensche Boddenlandschaft), which implemented re-naturalisation measures.


The Sieg is a river in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is a right tributary of the Rhine.

The river is named after the Sicambri. It is 155 kilometres (96 mi) in length.

The source is located in the Rothaargebirge mountains. From here the river runs southwestwards to the city of Siegen and the hills of Siegerland, both named after the river. Further west the Sieg valley forms the boundary of the Bergisches Land (northern) and Westerwald (southern). The river finally runs through a protected area east of the city of Bonn.

After passing the cities of Hennef and Siegburg, the river flows into the Rhine at the Naturschutzgebiet Siegaue, a protected area immediately to the northeast of the city of Bonn, near Niederkassel/Mondorf.


The Stöbber (also: Stobber) is the central river in the hilly landscape of „Märkische Schweiz“ and the Märkische Schweiz Nature Park, Brandenburg, Germany. The stream runs over a distance of 25 kilometers from the fen and source region of Rotes Luch towards the northeast through Buckow to the Oderbruch. Near Neuhardenberg the Stöbber flows into the Alte Oder, whose waters run over some canals to the Oder River and the Baltic Sea. On a roughly 13 kilometer long route of its course there is designated the nature protection area „Naturschutzgebiet Stobbertal“. In Altfriedland the river passes the Damm-Mühle (water mill) and, directly alongside the Kietzer See (lake), a Special European Protection Area (SPA) for the conservation of wild living birds (Birds Directive).

Nature reserves in Europe
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Protected areas of Europe
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