Introduction

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Traditionally, the people of this region have relied on the same resources – taking nourishment from Mother Nature to live and survive, drawing the energy and resources needed to establish their industries, and coming up with skills, traditions and recipes for living in harmony with each other as well as with the land.

But here, use of the word frontier is not insignificant. The wealth of the Vosges du nord–Pfälzerwald Biosphere Reserve does not just lie in a homogenous geology and heritage. It also comes from the converging influences of ocean and continent, creating a border area influenced by two climates whose habitats and species (some of the most remarkable in Europe) are unique to this region.
Here more than elsewhere, the history of mankind has left its mark. From the Celtic hordes to Roman legions, medieval lords to modern emperors, these conquerors have all fought over and shared this land between the Rhine and the Moselle. The great European tragedies took place here, including the most recent and costly in terms of human life, the Second World War.

The very foundations of Europe were built on these ruins and these nightmares. How can you transcend borders without resorting to war? It is not enough to simply forget and move on. We must also build a future, recognizing and valuing what unites us: the same landscapes, common heritage resources, similar languages, cultures and traditions, and a shared vision of future challenges.
All this forms the foundation of the Vosges du nord–Pfälzerwald Biosphere Reserve, a modest but valuable contribution to Europe’s grand design, and the removal of an artificial frontier to the benefit of Nature rediscovered.
On either side of the border, you find the same sandstone, the same streams, and the same forest – similar natural habitats with identical plant and animal species.

In December 1998, the Vosges du nord–Pfälzerwald Biosphere Reserve was recognized by UNESCO, as part of its Man and the Biosphere programme. It was formed by the merging of two bordering national biosphere reserves, Vosges du nord (northern Vosges), founded in 1988 and Pfälzerwald (Palatinate Forest), recognized in 1992.

Administrative authorities: Parc naturel régional des Vosges du NordParc naturel régional des Vosges du Nord (Northern Vosges Regional Natural Park – France) and Naturpark pfaelzerwald|Natürpark Pfälzerwald (Palatinate Forest Nature Park – Germany)

The Biosphere reserve "Vosges du Nord-Pfälzerwald" is not yet owned and operated by an independent organisation. Based on a Memorandum of Understanding, established in 1996 and regularly revised, the Reserve is managed by a Coordinating Committee, which comprises:

  • representatives from the two former national Biosphere reserves, the cooperative union for the Northern Vosges Regional Natural Park (SYCOPARC) on the French side, and the Naturpark Pfälzerwald (Palatinate Forest Nature Park) on the German side,
  • representatives from their partners and most notable sponsors.

Presidency alternates: the Administrative Committee is chaired by the President of the SYCOPARC or the President of the Naturpark Pfälzerwald e.V., alternating every two years.
The committee makes decisions about policies and actions to be implemented across the Reserve. Depending on circumstances, these are implemented by one or other administrative authority or by third-party organisations.

On its own initiative, a transfrontier working group on biodiversity was created. Together, and in consultation with French and German scientific teams from the Biosphere reserve, the two parks publish a Franco-German scientific journal.

The Biosphere reserve is operated by the SYCOPARC and Naturpark Pfälzerwald. It does not have its own staff. Projects and actions are funded by the financial partners of the two national administrative authorities, as well as the European Union, particularly through its Interreg programmes.

 

Number of municipalities248
Population337,000
Area    310,300
RegionsGrand Est, Rhénanie Palatinat
DepartmentsBas-Rhin/Moselle Bad Dürkheim Kaiserslautern Kreise Südwestplalz und Südliche Weinstrasse
Creation date1998

Territory

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carte du territoire

The Biosphere reserve’s dominant landscape consists of temperate forest that covers nearly three-quarters of the total area, making it the largest contiguous forest area in Western Europe, on both sides of the border between France and Germany. The dominant species are beech, Scots pine and oak.
Ponds, rocks and cliffs, streams and adjacent wetlands provide rare breaks in this vast forest landscape. Traditional orchards and vineyards can be found near the villages.

Given this dominance of Nature, the urbanized area of the Reserve is very small. These conditions partly contributed to the rich and diverse natural heritage being preserved. The same goes for cultural heritage – the Reserve boasts more than 95 castles.

The economic activities of the Biosphere reserve are strongly linked to its natural resources.
Timber harvesting thus still plays a big role. Sandstone is mined in a dozen or so family-owned quarries. The combination of incline, soil and sunshine provide the right conditions for orchards and vineyards on the outskirts of the Reserve.

Forest, water and sand have fostered more industrial activities, such as glass and crystal manufacture (Lalique, Saint-Louis) and metallurgy.

In this region which is ultimately more industrial than agricultural, workers have often been peasants too – reaping the scarce grass at the bottom of the valleys, picking apples and pears, and collecting chestnuts and mushrooms.

Beside these heritage-related activities, other more specific industries have flourished, such as shoe manufacturing in Pirmasens, all of which face the great challenges of the global economy.

Activities  

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Trame verte et bleue internationale « Vers un réseau écologique transfrontalier »

Le Ministère de l’environnement de Rhénanie-Palatinat et les DREAL Alsace et Lorraine sont prêtes à financer l’élaboration d’un réseau écologique transfrontalier dans la réserve de biosphère Vosges du Nord-Pfälzerwald.

Le groupe de travail de la biodiversité

Les divers aspects de la biodiversité et des habitats Une équipe d'experts français et allemands aborde les divers aspects de la biodiversité et des habitats. En plus de mener des actions concrètes et d'élaborer des projets, le groupe cherche à initier et développer des études scientifiques.

"Le châtaignier dans la région du Rhin supérieur, une essence rassemblant hommes, cultures et paysages. »

L'institut de recherche forestière de Trippstadt a initié un projet intitulé "Le châtaignier dans la région du Rhin supérieur, une essence rassemblant hommes, cultures et paysages. »

Slideshow

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Chargement légende

Quarry, Rothbach_Yvon MeyerA bog pond, Waldeck_SYCOPARCThe Spoonleaf Sundew, an insectivorous plant_SYCOPARCA cross-border farmers’ market, Bitche_SYCOPARCThe new clogmaker’s museum_Cr CantinRoyal fern beside an acid soil beech forest_SYCOPARC
Royal fern beside an acid soil beech forest_SYCOPARCPine forest growing in rocky soil_SYCOPARCButtercups and gravel_SYCOPARCForest stream on a sandstone bed, an oasis of nature_SYCOPARCSawmill,  Lembach_Yvon MeyerSandstone silhouette_SYCOPARC
Sandstone silhouette_SYCOPARCOrchard with standard trees_SYCOPARCLa Petite Pierre castle and ramparts_SYCOPARCOrchard, Zittersheim_SYCOPARC