Beavers Rebuild their Home

Located in the Biosphere Reserve Schorfheide-Chorin, the small Bollwinfließ (170 hectares) is one of the most scenic marshy stream valleys in the state of Brandenburg. Due to the return of the beaver in recent decades, the valley has reverted to an impressive peatland landscape. In 1990 the valley was designated as a Nature Conservation Area, and in 2004 it was transferred from federal property to the Michael Succow Foundation. 


This tiny paradise is located ca. 40 kilometres north of Berlin in Germany’s eastern part, where natural landscapes still abound. Since the melting of the Ice Age glaciers 12,000 years ago, the area has developed into a diverse landscape with groundwater-fed mires, meandering stream valleys, and serene lakes. These elements characterise the meltwater channel that transects the extensive pine forests of this Sandar landscape.


The romantic stream valley with its fens was too wet to allow forest growth. It therefore developed into an open landscape. In the 18th century attempts were made (as in many parts of Germany) to drain the fen and turn it into pastureland. However, already by the mid-1930s the agricultural use of these spring fen meadows had been widely abandoned. For the past 30 years, the landscape has been shaped by beaver activity. The beavers dammed the stream and the old irrigation ditches, which led to a rising water level and allowed the spread of magnificent reeds. Once more, a peat-forming ecosystem is developing in the Bollwinfließ, which was officially recognised as a Beaver Reserve in the late 1970s.


There is no paved road through the refuge, which is accessible by sandy trails only. The sole settlement is the small village of Dargersdorf with its historic, half-timbered church at the western edge of the 6 kilometres long valley. This quietly enchanting landscape is a balm for the soul. It also provides habitats for rare animals and plants: Red and Black Kites, Goshawk and Hobby live in the surrounding forests, Green and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers inhabit the forest edges, while Cranes and Common Snipe, Marsh Harriers and Kingfishers can be found in the wet stream valley. The diversity of songbirds is particularly impressive. In addition, the area is home to several species of orchids, many rare peatland plants and endangered mosses. And this diversity is noticeably on the increase.


It is our goal to leave this valley entirely to nature’s own dynamic processes. This requires the immediate revitalization of the old irrigation system. In order to achieve this, the foundation needs to acquire small private holdings that are scattered throughout the reserve. Visitors will be able to explore the area from an educational nature trail.



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Project coordination:

Stefan Schwill, email: stefan.schwill(at)