Lower Oder Valley National Park (Nationalpark Unteres Odertal)

Lower Oder Valley National Park

 

 

Location: Brandenburg  Map

Area: 105 km²

 

 

Description of Lower Oder Valley National Park

Lower Oder Valley National Park, a sub-area of ​​the Lower Oder Valley International Park, is a national park in Germany founded in 1995. It is located on the lower reaches of the Oder in northeast Brandenburg in the districts of Barnim and Uckermark, covers an area of ​​10,323 ha and was inaugurated on September 10, 1995. The national park is surrounded on the German side by the 17,774 hectare landscape protection area of ​​the Lower Oder Valley National Park. The national park forms a spatial unit with the adjoining Polish landscape protection park Lower Oder Valley (Park Krajobrazowy Dolina Dolnej Odry, approx. 6,000 ha) and the Zehden landscape protection park (Cedynski Park Krajobrazowy, approx. 30,850 ha) and its protection zone.

Since the declarations and resolutions of the German-Polish Environment Council in 1992, the area with its central part between the Hohensaaten-Friedrichsthaler waterway and the Oder river, including the adjacent area on the German side and the intermediate river country between east and west or from Widuchowa (Fiddichow) to the Skosnica Canal (Klützer Querfahrt) on the Polish side is considered a cross-border protected area and bears the name Internationalpark Unteres Odertal. The cross-border protection zone covers a total of 1,172 km² and extends over 60 km on both the German and Polish sides along the Oder. The administration of the national park is located on the grounds of the castle in Criewen in the national park center Lower Oder Valley. There is also the National Park House with an exhibition.

 

Special features of the Lower Oder Valley National Park
The national park extends over a width of two to a maximum of eight kilometers. The east bank of the Oder (or from Friedrichsthal the Ostoder) rises steeply to heights of up to 100 m above sea level. NN at. The west bank of the Westoder and the canal that runs parallel to the Oder, the Hohensaaten-Friedrichsthaler Wasserstraße, is a little less steep and very flat in the Schwedt / Oder area (mouth of the Wels).

Here is the only intact polder landscape in Germany. A large area of ​​the river basin was diked according to the Dutch model. High winter dykes that stretch along the western edge of the valley protect the villages. The summer dykes, which are opened every year in November, stretch along the Oder, so that the water of the Oder can cover the entire width of the river valley and flow away unhindered. The polder meadows are therefore flooded in winter and spring. The river has more space and the risk of flooding for the port city of Szczecin is almost eliminated.

When the tide has subsided in April, the weirs of the summer dykes are closed again. The remaining water is pumped out within a few days. This enables the meadows to be used for grazing and mowing well into autumn.

The extensive river and floodplain landscape is the habitat for many rare or protected plants and animals, including beavers. Large flocks of migratory birds rest on the flooded meadows. The valley of the Oder is limited by immediately steep hillsides. On some particularly rugged slopes, remnants of the original forests have been preserved to this day. Other areas are now dry grass due to centuries of grazing.

Fauna of the national park
The meadows flooded in winter offer numerous migratory birds resting places. The whooper swan is one of the birds that can be observed here. The breeding birds of this national park include such rare meadow breeders as the corncrake, the ruff and the black-tailed godwit, and the oriole nests in the alluvial forests and deciduous forests on the slopes of the Oder. The largest breeding colony of the Black Tern is also located in the national park.

The kingfisher and the reed warbler, one of the most endangered songbirds in Europe, can also be observed here. It breeds regularly in the wet meadows and reed beds of the floodplains. Larger populations of this songbird species can otherwise only be found in the swamp and floodplains of Poland and Belarus further to the east.

The white storks that breed on the roofs of the surrounding villages are particularly attractive to visitors to the national park. The very rare black storks can also be found, albeit very hidden, of which there are currently 3 to 5 breeding pairs.

However, otters, beavers, Montagu's harrier and sea eagles have settled here as permanent species.

In 2006 the largest colony of white-winged terns in Germany was breeding in the national park. 50 couples with 45 boys were counted. The relatively long flood of the Oder and the resulting shallow water areas provided good conditions for the birds. When the summer heat set in, the park administration ensured good breeding conditions.

In addition to the white-winged tern, the white-bearded tern also breeded in the national park in 2006. 15 chicks were counted.

In the national park, the cranes gather before their flight to the south. a. be observed from the tower in Mescherin. Crane weeks take place regularly in autumn.

Migrating moose are rarely seen in the national park.

Flora of the national park
In addition to the polder areas, the national park also has important habitats for rare animal and plant species that are located on the heights and on the slopes of the edges of the Oder Valley. For example, the downy oak, which is very rare in Central Europe, grows here, a type of oak that has velvety leaves; because the downy oak belongs in the Mediterranean vegetation, for this species it is too cold in large parts of Central Europe.

 

Tourist use

Special features of the Lower Oder Valley National Park
The national park extends over a width of two to a maximum of eight kilometers. The east bank of the Oder (or from Friedrichsthal the Ostoder) rises steeply to heights of up to 100 m above sea level. NN at. The west bank of the Westoder and the canal that runs parallel to the Oder, the Hohensaaten-Friedrichsthaler Wasserstraße, is a little less steep and very flat in the Schwedt / Oder area (mouth of the Wels).

Here is the only intact polder landscape in Germany. A large area of ​​the river basin was diked according to the Dutch model. High winter dykes that stretch along the western edge of the valley protect the villages. The summer dykes, which are opened every year in November, stretch along the Oder, so that the water of the Oder can cover the entire width of the river valley and flow away unhindered. The polder meadows are therefore flooded in winter and spring. The river has more space and the risk of flooding for the port city of Szczecin is almost eliminated.

When the tide has subsided in April, the weirs of the summer dykes are closed again. The remaining water is pumped out within a few days. This enables the meadows to be used for grazing and mowing well into autumn.

The extensive river and floodplain landscape is the habitat for many rare or protected plants and animals, including beavers. Large flocks of migratory birds rest on the flooded meadows. The valley of the Oder is limited by immediately steep hillsides. On some particularly rugged slopes, remnants of the original forests have been preserved to this day. Other areas are now dry grass due to centuries of grazing.

Fauna of the national park
The meadows flooded in winter offer numerous migratory birds resting places. The whooper swan is one of the birds that can be observed here. The breeding birds of this national park include such rare meadow breeders as the corncrake, the ruff and the black-tailed godwit, and the oriole nests in the alluvial forests and deciduous forests on the slopes of the Oder. The largest breeding colony of the Black Tern is also located in the national park.

The kingfisher and the reed warbler, one of the most endangered songbirds in Europe, can also be observed here. It breeds regularly in the wet meadows and reed beds of the floodplains. Larger populations of this songbird species can otherwise only be found in the swamp and floodplains of Poland and Belarus further to the east.

The white storks that breed on the roofs of the surrounding villages are particularly attractive to visitors to the national park. The very rare black storks can also be found, albeit very hidden, of which there are currently 3 to 5 breeding pairs.

However, otters, beavers, Montagu's harrier and sea eagles have settled here as permanent species.

In 2006 the largest colony of white-winged terns in Germany was breeding in the national park. 50 couples with 45 boys were counted. The relatively long flood of the Oder and the resulting shallow water areas provided good conditions for the birds. When the summer heat set in, the park administration ensured good breeding conditions.

In addition to the white-winged tern, the white-bearded tern also breeded in the national park in 2006. 15 chicks were counted.

In the national park, the cranes gather before their flight to the south. Crane weeks take place regularly in autumn.

Migrating moose are rarely seen in the national park.

Flora of the national park
In addition to the polder areas, the national park also has important habitats for rare animal and plant species that are located on the heights and on the slopes of the edges of the Oder Valley. For example, the downy oak, which is very rare in Central Europe, grows here, a type of oak that has velvety leaves; because the downy oak belongs in the Mediterranean vegetation, for this species it is too cold in large parts of Central Europe.

Tourist use
After the creation of the national park, the Oder lowlands have become an insider tip for tourists. In 2004 the park had around 150,000 visitors. As early as the spring of 1997, the then Brandenburg Environment Minister Matthias Platzeck explained: “If you add up the day and multi-day visitors who only come to the Schwedt area because of the national park, the region has an annual financial benefit of a cautiously estimated 2.6 million DM ( today 1.3 million euros). "

 

The starting point for partly guided walking and cycling tours is the town of Schwedt / Oder or the National Park Center in Criewen. A section of the now 465-kilometer-long Oder-Neisse cycle path leads along one of the dikes. The park has a 200-kilometer network of trails, 52 marked cycling and hiking trails, three nature trails and three climbs with panoramic views.

A little further south are the remains of Stolpe Castle (popularly known as "Grützpott") on a hill. From the foot of the castle ruins you have a beautiful view of the Lower Oder Valley. It is possible to climb the castle at certain times.

Planned further development
According to the old National Park Act (NatPUOG) of 1995, at least half of the area of ​​the national park should not be used commercially by December 31, 2010 at the latest and, with the exception of the flood protection systems, should be left to natural development without restriction (total reserves).

From 2004 to 2006, the state of Brandenburg discussed an amendment to the National Park Act of 1995 due to acceptance problems in parts of the agricultural sector, the fishing associations, the local population and the water management time objectives for the designation of usage-free zones. In addition, it is in favor of defining total reserves (protection zones Ia and Ib) with restricted use to exactly 50.1% (Section 5 (2) NatPUOG). At 0.1% less, the state would have violated the Federal Nature Conservation Act (BNatSchG). According to Section 24 (1) sentence 2 BNatSchG, an area can only be placed under protection as a national park if it fulfills the prerequisites for protection as a nature reserve (Section 23 BNatSchG) in the majority of its area. Mostly means more than 50%. However, if the protected area in the Lower Oder Valley National Park were 50.2%, this would be a violation of the National Park Act (NatPUOG) that has been in force since 2006.

Conservationists complain that the amendment of the National Park Act in 2006 once again gave way to the interests of farmers and anglers.