One of the largest tracts of forest in Germany, the UNESCO-listed Schorfheide Chorin Biosphere Reserve lies to the northeast of Berlin. It features deep valleys and vast open landscapes that were carved by immense moving glaciers during the last Ice Age, resulting in a variety of different terrains and an abundance of plant and animal species.
The largely undeveloped forests provide a home for ospreys and white-tailed eagles while the wetlands are a feeding habitat for cranes, black and white storks. Both beavers and otters can be spotted in waterways throughout the reserve while 16 of Germany’s native bat species reside here.
But true to the biosphere concept of protecting land that has been altered by human intervention, the Schorfheide Chorin Biosphere Reserve also contains the remains of former castles and timber-framed houses, as well as extensive farmlands. Walking trails crisscross the area, including interpretive hikes through the old beech forests of the Buchenwald Grumsin, which served as a former state hunting area. The Schorfheide Chorin Biosphere Reserve is also home to the Chorin Abbey, one of North Germany’s most impressive examples of brick Gothic style, together with the ruins of the medieval-era Grimnitz Castle and Greiffenberg Castle.
At the heart of the Biosphere Reserve lies the Werbellin Lake, which stretches around 10 kilometers in length. Its outstanding visibility and numerous shipwrecks make it a popular destination for scuba diving, with overloaded “coffee boats” sunk during high winds during the 19th century lying on the lake floor and a fascinating Ice Age wall to discover.