Field trip through the UNESCO biosphere reserve Heath and pond landscape of Upper Lusatia

Author: Karimon Nesha

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39th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB course along with Tropical Forestry students of TU Dresden in the Biosphere Reserve

The purpose of UNESCO biosphere reserves is the protection of cultural landscapes. The size of the Biosphere Reserve Upper Lusatia Heath and Pond Landscape is 30.102 ha of which 10000 ha are used for agriculture. The biosphere reserve has a very special character as a result of extensive land use including agriculture, forestry and ponds. The pond landscape is unique for this reserve and started 800 years ago. The ponds are used for the cultivation of carps. People are also seen as part of the biosphere and use resources sustainably. There is also a teaching path in the forest. The reserve administration reports every 10  years to the UNESCO.

The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve has three zones:

  • Core zone : it covers maximum 20% of the area
  • Buffer zone
  • Transition zone or development area

The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve fulfills three tasks:

  • Sustainable land use
  • Nature conservation
  • Environmental education called education for sustainable development (ESD)

Administrative tasks may also be included in forest management in addition to the three tasks of biosphere reserve.

Ponds in the Biosphere Reserve

Around 10% of the reserve area  is ponds. There are about 347 ponds in the Reserve covering  2.415 ha. The first pond established around 1000 years ago and the shape has not much changed in the last 500 years. Mostly, carps are cultivated in the pond. The ponds are not deep. It is only 0.5m deep and flat as the carps need warm water. Carps feed on  small animals in water and on cereals. In winter, the water freezes, so carps are taken out of the ponds and put in winter ponds which are deeper and consequently do not freeze completely. It takes around 2.5 years to cultivate carps in the ponds. The carps are bred mainly in mono-cultures. Farmers are given incentives to produce diverse fish in the ponds.  The production of fish in the ponds are estimated to be 500 to 1,000 kilogram per year and hectare.

Agriculture and biodiversity: Village Kreba-Neudorf, farm of family Ladusch

In the farm, old and seriously threatened grain species (rye, wheat, spelt) are cultivated based on crop rotation under The Heritage Crop Varieties Project started in autumn 1997 supporting preserving the biodiversity of crop plants. The old cereal species are resistant to diseases.  Since 2007, the area of old cereal species cultivation is increasing. Three species are currently highly productive in the farm.

Forestry and Biodiversity: Dune of Mücka

Dune of Mücka was a former military area. Along with the abandonment of exercises in this military training area in 1991 heavy shrub invasion and forestation took place by natural succession. The great importance of those sites for thermophilic and xerophilic species has already become obvious by first surveys of the entomofauna and avifauna. In the meantime more than 30 sand wasp species, 110 wildbee species and 50 nesting bird species are represented here. Among other things, it is habitat for more than 50% of the hoopoe population, the curlew, camprimulgus (Camprimulgus europaeus), and of the hobby (Falco subbuteo) in the biosphere reserve. Today this forest is privately owned by nature foundation.  There are four categories in the forest. These are mentioned below:

  • Category N: this category represents natural vegetation. Almost 80% of the tree species are pine and the age of the pine is more than 100 years. About 90% species are native.
  • Category Transition: In this category, 60% of the trees are pine and the age of the pines is over 80 years. In 20 years, this category is expecting to transform in category N.
  • Category UL: The ages of this category are below 80 years. It will take more than 20 years to reach the status of conservation.
  • Category S: special: It is a lower intermediate forest type.
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