Nature Conservation Area (NSG) Lanken

A Coastal Forest in Western Pomerania – Reserved for Nature and its Exploration

One of the most beautiful coastal forests on the German Baltic Sea can be found just outside the city of Greifswald on the southern shore of the Bay of Greifswald (Greifswalder Bodden). With an area of only 57 hectares it represents a surprisingly diverse ecosystem. This forest was placed under federal protection in 1957, following an initiative by Dr. Lebrecht Jeschke. The treatment guidelines prescribe total protection of all deciduous trees while calling for removal of planted spruce and Douglas fir. Since 2003 the “Lanken” has been officially under the care of the Michael Succow Foundation.

In 2007, the dragon was chosen as the perfect symbol for the wild, untamed force of nature and became the mascot for the wilderness development area “NSG Lanken”. The concept of a ”Dragon Empire Lanken“ was as part of a diploma thesis. Its realisation was made possible by the financial support from the Norddeutsche Stiftung für Umwelt und Entwicklung (NUE), the Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V., the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the Nature Conservation Alliance (NABU) Greifswald, and the Michael Succow Foundation. The “Dragon Empire Lanken” is a thematic educational trail that aims to foster the rational perception as well as an emotional understanding of the retransformation of cultural landscapes into wilderness, of the change and chaos within nature.


At five stations along the “Dragon Empire“ trail, the visitor experiences a wide range of different forest habitats: the shadowy realm of the beech, the pioneering realm of the pine, the watery realm of the alder, the transitional realm of the oak, and the communal realm of the ash tree. The visitors may simply linger and take in the atmosphere of each different forest type, or they can attempt to interpret the natural phenomena with the aid of educational installations. A sixth and final station offers a summary of the connections between the previous stations, with the different successional stages of the forest serving as the common thread. In addition, there is a workbook with explanations, exercises, tips for excursions, and suggestions for activities, which can be purchased for a nominal fee.


The extension project entitled “The Dragon Empire Lanken reaches out.“ was  sponsored by the Norddeutsche Stiftung für Umwelt und Entwicklung (NUE) with proceeds from the environmental lottery BINGO, and by the Manfred Hermsen Foundation. It created additional guided activities that supplement the educational trail, which is meant for individual exploration. A wide variety of thematic tours are offered, including a sensual tour, a fairytale tour, an animal-oriented tour, a tour with an experimental focus, and an informative nature walk for adults. In addition, there is a school project, a letter project with day-care centers, and a guided multiplier tour for teachers etc.

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