Binnensalzstellen Brandenburg - Conservation and development of the inland salt marshes of Brandenburg

LIFE05 NAT/D/000111

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Project description:


Inland salt marshes are created where saline ground water rises to the surface. The salts come primarily from the Zechstein formation which came into being around 250 million years ago when a sea covered today's Central Europe. Normally, thick layers of clay prevent the rise of saline water into the freshwater near the surface. In places where there is no such clay, saline water can rise to the surface. The salt levels can be quite low, but are enough to provide a competitive advantage for particular kinds of vegetation, such as strawberry clover (Trifolium fragiferum) and the orchid orchis palustris.

Salt meadows and pastures are semi-natural environments which first developed through their extensive use as prairies and pastures. The inland salt meadows in Brandenburg, near Berlin, are geological and botanical rarities providing important links with salt meadows to the East and West. They are generally of small size, but relatively numerous and contain several plant species endemic to Central Europe.

However the salt marshes are threatened both by the abandonment of extensive grazing, leading to overgrowth, and by intensification, leading to conversion into agricultural land. Furthermore, conditions for saline vegetation in Brandenburg have significantly worsened in the last decades. Notably, the marshes are suffering from salt imbalances due to changes in the hydrological conditions, previously regulated by traditional irrigation and drainage systems.


The overarching objective of the Salzstellen Brandenburgs project was to contribute to the conservation and regeneration of the inland salt marshes of Brandenburg. The project sought to restore the characteristic habitats and species of the most representative salt marshes in the area and introduce sustainable management practices.

The project planned to elaborate an action plan to improve and, where possible, re-establish the conditions for the existence of salt meadows and pastures in several areas in Brandenburg. Specific measures foreseen included:

  • Restoring the hydrological balance of several marshes and saline areas;
  • Removing overgrowth affecting the marshes; and
  • Initiating extensive cultivation of meadows.

The project also aimed to stimulate local interest in the project's aims and activities with educational activities and to implement measures aimed at the development of tourism to the area.


The project successfully achieved its objectives and improved the conservation status of inland salt marshes in Brandenburg. The project actions led to the extension of this rare habitat type, stabilisation of the water regime and the establishment of appropriate management procedures.

The project implemented a number of interventions which restored stability to the hydrological balance of the area. Key measures included: constructing a ground sill in the Marstallwiesen, in order to raise the water level permanently; re-connecting about 1 000 m of old meanders; and removing five old weirs. It increased water levels over 312 ha, which was an excellent result. It also showed how water level in several meadows could be regulated according to the requirements of the target species and the current weather conditions. Detailed knowledge of the local hydrology was found to be essential to successful implementation of salt marsh restoration.

The beneficiary carried out specific additional actions to restore the unique habitats provided by the salt marshes: mowing of reeds over 196 ha; clearing of shrubs and small trees from 27 ha; planting of 240 m of groves; and creation of 11 ponds. The interventions were shown to benefit salt marsh biodiversity. In several project sites, Apium repens and Angelica palustris were identified for the first time.

The project tested the appropriateness of agri-environmental actions in regard to conservation of wet meadows and developed management plans for 523 ha of nature conservation sites covering the salt marshes of Brandenburg. To support ongoing management of some of the most important sites, the project purchased 96 ha of land and a further 18 ha were provided to the State of Brandenburg (beneficiary) in the frame of the transfer of former “Prussia property” (Preußeneigentum).

The activities highlighted that the restoration of inland salt marshes is only meaningful if long-term management can be ensured in co-operation with concerned land users. A notable project output was a specific Action Plan for Farmers and the establishment of trust between land users and conservationists will be the basis for future conservation, dependent on the availability of agri-environmental support.

To raise awareness on the project, its importance and its achievements, it produced information leaflets, a salt-trail map, a scientific brochure, several scientific articles in professional journals, a mobile exhibition, 11 information boards, one observation tower and one observation platform. It organised more than 40 excursions, public events and project presentations and the project was mentioned in more than 60 press articles.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Conservation Plan (see "Read more" section).

In 2018, an ex-post visit was carried out by the external monitoring team, 8 years after the project’s completion. This visit concluded that the project’s management and action plans, together with the purchase of selected land parcels, had allowed the envisaged large-scale restoration measures, which brought back the conditions necessary for maintaining the target habitats. It was noted that the higher soil water table and seasonal flooding was only feasible over large areas, and in agreement with land owners. The land acquisition also led to less fragmented ownership of land, which enabled more effective restoration, management and farmer involvement. However, the ex-post mission revealed that the improved management seen at the end of the project could not be continued to the same quality on all project sites. At the time of the ex-post visit (May 2018) there were 155 ha of inland salt meadows (*1340) mapped, with 153 ha located within the Natura 2000 network. Within the scope of the project hydrologic site conditions were improved on more than 300 ha, allowing the improvement of target biotopes on almost 200 ha. This represented a positive and visible impact on about 80% of the total area of the target habitat in Brandenburg. The sustainability of project actions is heavily depending on durable, appropriate management. Therefore, sustainability depends on the availability of sufficient agri-environmental support. In Brandenburg this is given in the medium-term (current scheme period 2014-2020), and it is of vital importance that the agri-environmental funding continues.


Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Freshwater


land purchase‚  protected area‚  renaturation‚  environmental awareness‚  wetland

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 79/409 - Conservation of wild birds (02.04.1979)
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...
  • Decision 93/626 - Conclusion of the Convention on Biological Diversity (25.10.1993)
  • COM(98)42 -"Communication on a European Community Biodiversity Strategy" (05.02.1998)
  • COM(2001)162 -"Biodiversity Action Plan for the conservation of natural resources (vol. I & II)" ...

Target species

 Angelica palustris   Apium repens   Leucorrhinia pectoralis   Liparis loeselii   Vertigo angustior   Vertigo moulinsiana 

Target Habitat types

  • 6430 - Hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities of plains and of the montane to alpine levels
  • 6440 - Alluvial meadows of river valleys of the Cnidion dubii
  • 6510 - "Lowland hay meadows (Alopecurus pratensis, Sanguisorba officinalis)"
  • 7210 - Calcareous fens with Cladium mariscus and species of the Caricion davallianae
  • 7230 - Alkaline fens
  • 1340 - Inland salt meadows
  • 6410 - "Molinia meadows on calcareous, peaty or clayey-silt-laden soils (Molinion caeruleae)"

Natura 2000 sites

SCI DE2749301 Uckerseewiesen und Trockenhänge
SCI DE2849325 Oberückersee
SCI DE3442304 Beetzsee-Rinne und Niederungen
SCI DE3642302 Rietzer See
SCI DE3643304 Streuwiesen bei Werder
SCI DE3744301 Nuthe-Nieplitz-Niederung
SCI DE3746302 Prierowsee
SCI DE3746305 Königsgraben und Schleuse Mellensee
SCI DE3746308 Umgebung Prierowsee
SCI DE3748308 Skabyer Torfgraben Ergänzung
SCI DE3749301 Groß Schauener Seenkette
SCI DE3749302 Luchwiesen
SCI DE3843301 Obere Nieplitz
SCI DE3845302 Gadsdorfer Torfstiche und Luderbusch
SCI DE3846306 Wehrdamm/Mellensee/Kleiner Wünsdorfer See
SCI DE3951305 Uferwiesen bei Niewisch
SCI DE4047304 Luckauer Salzstellen
SCI DE4047306 Dahmetal Ergänzung



Coordinator Landesumweltamt Brandenburg, Referat GR2
Type of organisation Regional authority
Description The Landesumweltamt Brandenburg (LUA) is the regional administration responsible for the implementation of nature conservation law in Brandenburg.
Partners Stiftung NaturSchutzFonds Brandenburg, Germany Heinz-Sielmann-Stiftung, Germany


Project reference LIFE05 NAT/D/000111
Duration 01-AUG-2005 to 30-JUN -2010
Total budget 1,855,246.00 €
EU contribution 1,391,435.00 €
Project location Brandenburg(Deutschland)


Read more:

Leaflet "Binnensalzstellen in Brandenburg" (311 KB)
Leaflet "Unterwegs auf dem Salzweg bei Storkow" (2.52 MB)
Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Conservation Plan After-LIFE Conservation Plan
Publication: Case study "Naturschutz und Landschaftspflege in Brandenburg ...
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Aktionsplan Landwirtschaft - Erarbeitung von fach ...
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Layman report Laienbericht
Publication: Research findings "Kulturversuch zur Herstellung eines Schaubeetes d ...
Publication: Technical report Endbericht (3 MB)


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version