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1,300
 km2
Area
With an area of 1,300 km2 and a population density of about 23 inhabitants per km2, the region of the Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve is one of the most sparsely populated areas in Germany and the least populated exploratory.
3-140
 m a.s.l.
Elevation
The Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve is characterised by an extensive hilly young moraine landscape with 240 lakes, numerous small bodies of water and bogs, as well as dry sandy knolls with subcontinental dry grasslands.
480-580
 mm
Annual precipitation sum
The Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve is one of the driest regions in Germany. The vegetation in this low-precipitation exploratorium includes extensive pine-durmast-oak forests and mixed beech and beech forests.

The Schorfheide-Chorin Exploratory is located in one of the largest protected areas in Germany, the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Schorfheide-Chorin, which was established in 1990 on an area of 1,300 km². The glaciers of the last glaciation left a structurally rich landscape here after melting 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. Outwash plains, ground and terminal moraines characterise the landscape and, with their different soils, form the basis for varied vegetation. With 480-580 mm annual precipitation, the area is one of the driest parts of Germany.

Facts
Area1,300 km2
Annual precipitation sum480 mm in the East, 580 mm in the West
Elevation3-140 m a.s.l.
Typical plant speciesMoor vegetation, e.g., bug cotton, marsh tea
Dominant forest typePine - durmast oak forests, beech and mixed beech forests
Characteristic management typesLarge-scale logging in the forest (historically it was clear-cutting); Extensive grassland management, predominantly mowed pasture with cattle grazing, sheep grazing on dry grasslands.
Specific informationWorld Natural Heritage Beech Forest Grumsin, glacial young moraine landscape with 240 lakes, numerous small water bodies and moors

The biosphere reserve

The biosphere reserve encompasses an impressive young glacial landscape with around 240 lakes, thousands of moors and extensive forests. The forests range from natural old beech forests with trees over 100 years old to mixed forests and intensively managed pine monocultures. Such stands are increasingly underplanted with beech. The majority of the forests are managed as age class forests, the unmanaged forest areas in the nature development areas have not been used for forestry since 1990. Part of the beech forests was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2011. This distinction is inspiring more and more people to visit the region. The forests of the Schorfheide were an important state hunting ground from the age of the Kurfürsten in medieval times until the recent past. Today, about ¼ of the forests are in private hands.

Grassland in the Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve
Lime-beech forest in the Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve
Cranes in the Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve

In the non-forested areas, cleared agricultural land is found, whereas mowed and grazed grassland is poorly represented. With many farms cultivating more than 500 ha of land, small-scale agriculture is hardly found in the area.

Geology

The soils at the Schorfheide-Chorin Exploratory consist mainly of glacial sediments including their periglacial overprinting and, in contrast to the other two exploratories, often show sandy soil types. However, soil type can vary greatly over small areas. For example, there are also sites where stony, clayey ground moraine material is close to the surface. While podsol brown earths predominate as soil type under forest, anmoorgleye are typical for grassland. Since grassland sites are often located in lowland areas, their soils are usually influenced by groundwater.

Using inventories from 1.000 plots surveyed per exploratory, 100 so-called experimental plots (EP) (50 in forest and 50 in grassland) were selected and permanently marked. These 100 plots cover the widest possible range of land use intensities in the region, but differ as little as possible in other variables such as soil type. In forest, these experimental plots have a size of 100 x 100 m, and in grassland, 50 x 50 m. Each of the plots is equipped with a climate measurement station within a 3 x 3 m fenced area.

Depending on effort and cost, experiments can be conducted not only on all 100 EPs, but also on subsets of 50 (so-called MIP, medium research intensity) or 18 (so-called VIP, very intensively studied plots) study plots.

Forest

The forest use gradient to be investigated ranges from pine forests to pine-beech semi-forests and managed oak and beech forests to semi-natural unmanaged beech forests in the nature development areas of the biosphere reserve. The study areas are predominantly located in the state forest of Brandenburg, but also in private forests. 

The experimental plots in forests (n = 50) cover the following forest land use types:

  • Pine forest, stemwood
  • Pine forest, young timberwood 
  • Pine forest, timberwood
  • Pine-beech mixed forest, timberwood
  • Oak forest, timberwood
  • Beech forest, timberwood
  • Beech forest, timberwood with regeneration
  • Unmanaged beech forest
Locations of forest EPs
Managed old-growth pine forest at the stemwood stage
Managed age class pine forest at the young tree stage
Managed old-growth pine forest at the timberwood stage
Managed age class pine-beech mixed forest at the timberwood stage
Managed age class oak forest at the timberwood stage
Managed age class beech forest in the timberwood stage
Managed old-growth beech forest with regeneration in the timberwood and thicket stage
Unmanaged beech forest in the timberwood stage

Grassland

The spectrum of land use types in the grassland includes mowed meadows, cattle pastures, and a combination of mowing and grazing (mowing pastures). A special feature in the Schorfheide-Chorin Exploratory is the extensive low moorland. Accordingly, the experimental plots are located both in low moorland and on mineral soils far from groundwater. Most of the farms cultivate more than 500 ha of land. The study plots are located on both conventional and organic farms. 

The experimental plots in grasslands (n = 50) cover the following land use types:

  • Meadows unfertilised with 1-2 times mowing
  • Mowing pastures unfertilised with cattle, water buffalo, sheep grazing 
  • Mowing pastures fertilised with cattle grazing
  • Pastures fertilised with cattle grazing
  • Pastures unfertilised with cattle grazing

Local Management Team Schorfheide-Chorin

Schorfheide-Chorin Exploratory
Senckenberg – Leibniz Institution for Biodiversity and Earth System Research
Senckenberg Biodiversity und Climate Research Centre

Schorfheide-Chorin Exploratory Field Station
Hoher Steinweg 5-6
16278 Angermünde

Contact:
explo.sch@senckenberg.de
Phone: +49 (0) 3331 296 891 (Office Angermünde)
Phone: +49 (0) 3331 298036 (Office Dr. F. Marian)

Prof. Dr. Markus Fischer
Prof. Dr. Markus Fischer
Universität Bern
Speaker biodiversity exploratories, Project leader core project BEO, LMT Schorfheide, Botany and Synthesis
Dr. Franca Marian
Dr. Franca Marian
Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung,
Biodiversitäts-Exploratorium Schorfheide-Chorin
Local manager
Uta Schumacher
Uta Schumacher
Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung,
Biodiversitäts-Exploratorium Schorfheide-Chorin
Technician grassland
Jörg Memmert
Jörg Memmert
Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung,
Biodiversitäts-Exploratorium Schorfheide-Chorin
Forester
Frank Suschke
Frank Suschke
Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung,
Biodiversitäts-Exploratorium Schorfheide-Chorin
Measurement engineer
Markus Rubenbauer
Markus Rubenbauer
Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung,
Biodiversitäts-Exploratorium Schorfheide-Chorin
General technician
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