Quick facts

  • European Diploma of Protected Areas (code DE940004)
  • Since 1971
  • Country: Germany
  • Administrative region: North Rhine Westfalia (DEA)
  • Surface area: 50 km2 (5004.00 ha)
  • Marine area: 1%

Source and more information: Council of Europe


Site contact authorities

Manager Verschönerungsverein für das Siebengebirge VVS
Löwenburgstr. 2
D - 53639 Königswinter
Official contact international Ms Helena Orsulic
EC Bern Convention
Avenue de lŽEurope
F – 67075 Strasbourg Cedex
Official contact national MKLUNV NRW Düsseldorf
Mrs. Sylvia Wagner
Schwannstr. 3
D – 40476 Düsseldorf
Official contact regional Bezirksregierung Köln
Dez. 51 Natur- und Landschaftsschutz
Zeughausstr. 2 – 10
D – 50606 Köln
Official contact local Bürgermeister Lutz Wagner
Stadt Königswinter
Drachenfelsstr. 4
D – 53639 Königswinter


General character of the site The striking scenery with nearly 40 wooded hilltops along the river Rhine close to Bonn, Königswinter and Bad Honnef is the result of 25 million year old volcanic activity and subsequent erosion. The Siebengebirge mountains can be described as the ruins of a large volcano that erupted at different points. The presently 320 -460 m summits consist of solid rock from which the softer tuffs were removed by erosion. Most of the reserve comprises beechwood communities (many > 120 years) with xerothermal features, characteristic of oakwood with hornbeam. Since 2010 – basing on the 2009 resolution of the EU Parliament on wildernis areas in Europe – the reserve has the first official wildernis area in North-Rhine-Westphalia outside national parks. 
Quality Due to the long tradition of protection since 1829 (the Prussian king bought the Drachenfels hilltop to protect the medieval ruin) and due to the fact that the Verschönerungsverein für das Siebengebirge-VVS (founded in 1869) rescued the Siebengebirge from quarry destruction by buying 850 ha from the quarry owners, the reserve is one of GermanyŽs oldest nature protected landscapes. Besides the fact that the central area of the reserve is in private VVS ownership facilitates and guarantees its conservation. 
Vulnerability The climate sensitive coniferous acreage was under heavy drought attack and has constantly been reduced to 20%. The proportion of broadleaved species is continuously increased. In some places, especially the Drachenfels, the pressure of tourism is increasingly felt. Specially engaged wardens have decreased the number of private car owners trying illegally to drive to special places in the reserve, and they control mountain bikers as well. 
Owner The reserve is the property of the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia (LBWH), the Verschönerungsverein für das Siebengebirge-VVS (who initiated the conservation programme by buying the quarries), the city of Bad Honnef, in the northern part the city of Bonn and a few private landowners. 
Documentation The VVS is interested in making information about the Reserve and the VVS in written and digital form available for further use. So we have installed archives in the municipal archives of Bonn city that contain a systematic survey of the rescue and management of the Siebengebirge since 1870. Persons interested in the development of the reserve, especially scientists, have access to all original documents from 1870 down to the present day. A searching guide (also in digital form) facilitates access. Regularly we publish the Siebengebirge Magazine (twice a year), leaflets and scientific books covering relevant topics of the area. 
Habitat types Woodland covers 80% of the reserve. The bare rock faces contain relicts of submediterranean rock heath. Beechwood communities are the predominant feature of the natural vegetation. On poorer soils they are replaced by oakwood with beech. In some small wetland areas special woodland communities also occur, with maple, ash, cherry, lime, elm, wild service etc. 
Flora The area under Atlantic influence ends with the Siebengebirge which marks the northwest border of the central European flora. The indigenous flora is accompanied by a host of immigrant elements including Asplenium septentrionale (subarctic-alpine), Bupleurum falcatum (continental), Genista germanica (south atlantic-continental), Scilla bifolia (Submediterranean) 
Fauna The importance of the Siebengebirge from the standpoint of zoogeography is emphasized by the occurrence of molluscs. It marks the limit of the range level of several bird species, for example the rock bunting (Emberiza cia) for which it is the most northerly habitat, and the two kite species (Milvus milvus and M. migrans) whose range extends no further north-west. Considerable numbers of bats of various kinds take up their winter quarters in the "Ofenkaulen".Meanwhile the occurrence of wild cats (felis silvestris) and specimens of black stork (ciconia nigra) have been certified. 
Potential vegetation  
Geomorphology During volcanic eruptions 26 million years ago, at first volcanic ashes (tuff) covered the whole area with 200 -300 m. Into these tuff ashes magma intruded and got stuck. In millions of years erosion has washed off the softer tuffs and uncovered the hard rocks. So we have got a change between rounded volcanic hill tops and more than 60 smaller and 10 bigger valleys deeply carved into the ground. 
Educational interest For many years we have offered an extensive environmental education programme for children, kindergardens, schools, adults, and even universities (USA e.g.), offer 3-4 day-youth camps, special wildernis camps and maintain our own exhibition in our former ForesterŽs House. Quite a lot of commented trail proposals are available as flyers or booklets, special wildernis trails included. 
Cultural heritage The Siebengebirge covers the whole range of cultural development in Germany: the 12.000 year old stone age tombs at Oberkassel. The Celtic hilltop enclosure on Petersberg mountain: Roman traces in the Drachenfels quarries (55.B.C). Middle Age Castles on Wolkenburg, Drachenfels, Löwenburg (12th/13th centuries).The sacred landscape of well-preserved medieval Heisterbach Monastery (13th century) and the excellently restored neogothic Drachenburg Castle (1883). 
Justification The Siebengebirge, due to its position on the Rhine at the entrance to the romantic Middle Rhine, for centuries has been in the focus of European intellectual history (German Dutch, French. English. American authors). The reserve qualifies for designation as a site of special scientific interest: volcanic origin with impressive ”geological windows”. Situated in a transition zone between atlantic, continental and submediterranean climate, it is a hotspot of biodiversity. Because of it 820 ha wildernis area it has a unique selling-point in the Cologne-Bonn-Coblenz agglomeration. The area has been awarded the title of “National Geotope”. 
Methodology For research of the “wildernis area” (820 ha) we have installed a scientific advisory board with recognized experts of diverse fields who present the results of their research and proposals. Secondly, we use external consultors (Chance7) to evaluate our measures. As a private organization of citizens we feel particularly duty-bound to our 1.800 members whom we regularly include. 
Budget Split owner contributions: LBWH NRW 500.000 €/ VVS -300.000 €/ Rhein-Sieg-District Federal Project Chance -300.000 €)/ Bonn-Ennert Part / Bad Honnef. Ca. 300.000 €. Yearly project costs for the Nature Park Siebengebirge are laid down by the Nature Park General Assembly (communities+VVS) = 200.000 € + Investments. 
Management plan The Management plan for the Siebengebirge Nature Reserve (EU-Diploma since 1971) was adopted on January 27, 2015 and presented to the European Council. Authors are the FUTOUR Regionalberatung Haundorf/Germany and the Verschönerungsverein für das Siebengebirge-VVS. Relevant recommendations have continuously been implemented since 2016 (Cf. Annual Reports) 
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European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100