Continuation of habitat description
Forests cover 25% of the land area of the biosphere reserve. A diversity of beech forest communities grow on the Pleistocene island cores, particularly in the Granitz. In the vicinity, remains of a species-rich farm woodland with diverse wild fruit trees and evidence of coppicing can be found. Pines dominate the Holocene sand strata and dunes where the herb layer includes Erica, branched lichens and grey hair-grass.
Bogs and other wetlands:
Bogs and fens cover 15 % (1500 ha) of the land area of the biosphere reserve. Most of the bog types and hydrosere stages typical of north-eastern Germany are represented here. Depending on the nutrient status and ground water conditions, the bog and fen vegetation ranges from oligotrophic to eutrophic. Small kettle bogs are located on the Pleistocene uplands in the Granitz, whereas spring-fed bogs and valley bogs occupy the slopes. Open bogs are found on the shores of the bodden and lakes as well as between the Holocene beach ridges. The peat-forming vegetation of these groundwater-fed bogs has almost entirely disappeared due to amelioration and flood control efforts. Even disturbance-tolerant sedge, moor grass, matgrass and rush communities are restricted to remnant fragments.
Meadows, pastures and grasslands:
The majority of drained bogs are now covered by secondary vegetation types. Efforts to revert to more extensive habitat management practices have resulted in species-rich hay meadows, restored wet grasslands and salt marshes, but also to degraded Arrhenatherion elatioris expanses and flooded meadows.
Grasslands and heaths:
Nutrient-poor and dry grasslands establish naturally on dunes or recently formed sandspits along the coast. The majority of heaths and dry grasslands in the biosphere reserve have developed secondarily in other vegetation types, and subsequently require extensive grazing in order to persist. A long history of such extensive management practices has contributed to the particularly diverse and species-rich communities on the moraine landscape of Mönchgut (e.g., dry calcareous grasslands).
Extensively-used agricultural fields and nutrient-rich fallow fields cover large areas of the biosphere reserve outside of the core and buffer zones (3600 ha = 30 %).
Shallow seasonal ponds with typical wetland vegetation develop in depressions within agricultural fields. In the past, even sandy and nutrient-poor moraine ridges were placed under cultivation. Today, the majority of these areas are left uncultivated due to low productivity, and the vegetation is shifting toward woodland communities. In some cases, we find pioneer species typically associated with the early stages of succession. A combination calcareous grassland and open woodland communities is common.
Human settlements cover 3100 ha (30%) of the land area of the biosphere reserve and reflect the region's relatively high population density.