Natural landscapes

Entlang des Saaleuferszeigt sich sehr gut der Unterschied zwischen landwirtschaftlicher Nutzung auf fränkischer Seite und dem naturbelassenen Grünen Band auf thüringischer Seite.
Green Belt near Lichtenhain. Photo: Stefan Beyer
Along the banks of the river Saale, the difference in agricultural usage on the Franconian side (photo above) and the Green Belt on the Thuringian side (photo below) can be seen very clearly. Photo: Klaus Leidorf
Mill ponds near Mitwitz. Photo: Klaus Leidorf

The largest part of the model region is located in the Thuringian-Franconian Slate Mountains in altitudes from 600 to nearly 800 metres (above sea level). From a geological perspective, the natural environment is made up above all of shale and graywacke, resulting in soil that is overly acidic and low-nutrient, which is mostly of little interest for intensive agricultural usage. Infertile hillside pastures and forests therefore take up a relatively high proportion of land. Spruce forests predominate, but in some parts natural deciduous and mixed forests can also be found. Narrow valleys cutting deep, wooded slopes and cleared plateaus typify the scenery.

Towards the east, in the region of the middle Vogtland uplands - the proportion of the volcanic dolerite and tuff rocks increase. This results in a slowly undulating hilly landscape with altitudes from 450 to 500 metres (above sea level). The few still wooded dolerite cliffs lining the Selbitz and Saale rivers are of special importance to numerous thermophilic animal and plant species.

A part of the Upper Main horst zone between Mitwitz and Neuhaus-Schierschnitz also belongs to the model region of the Green Belt on the Franconian-Thuringian border. This hilly landscape reaches altitudes of 300 to 400 metres (above sea level). The geological bedrock consists of sedimentation from the Mesozoic period. Numerous natural ponds have been preserved in this section of the Green Belt.