Project areas

Lower Saxony

V18 Unterelbe

The Unterelbe project area and Special Protection Area comprises the Lower Saxony part of the river Elbe estuary between the towns of Stade and Otterndorf. It is characterised by a particularly close network of aquatic and terrestrial habitats. The tidal dynamics, salt gradient and temporary large-scale flooding due to storm tides are characteristic environmental factors. These factors connect tidal shallow water zones, marine wadden areas, wadden areas of brackish water and fresh water and tidal flooding areas to constitute a habitat typical of estuaries.

Since the middle of the 19th century the river's navigation channel was deepened from an initial 3.3 m to today's 16 m. In the past decades, the building of dikes and barriers and the damming of tributaries caused substantial erosion and loss of habitat typical for estuaries.

Despite these changes, the region of the lower Elbe river still has a high percentage of landscape features typical for estuaries and is therefore of considerable importance for the flora and fauna of this area.