The plant kingdom
Extremely valuable areas of retreat for a wide variety of endangered plants and animals were created in the area of the Green Belt during the GDR era, due to non-existent or extensive usage and through the lack of disturbance due to military barricades.
Natural brooks with their valley wetlands are particularly rich in endangered species in the model region. Here in the Green Belt, tall forb corridors with meadow sweet and butterbur have become established. You can also find small areas of lowland moors with rare plant species, such as common cottongrass or bogbean. Large wet meadow areas exist in some stream valleys in which western marsh orchids and globeflowers grow. On the plateaus and hillside slopes one can enjoy mountain pastures in full bloom and mat grass meadows, on which arnica and the strong smelling spignel grow. The dwarf-shrub heaths, with their violet-red scotch heather flowers and the unassuming stag's-horn clubmoss, can now be found in the model region only in the Green Belt. Along the Selbitz and Saale rivers there are steep dolerite cliffs with exposed rock vegetation and natural steep sloping woods, where species such as the cheddar pink, sticky catchfly or northern spleenwort prosper. Of special importance are the many slate quarries, which display a rich abundance of ferns, moss, lichen and mushrooms.
These natural and semi-natural habitat types are still relatively common in the model region "Thuringian Forest & Slate Mountains / Franconian Forest". This is why large parts of the model region also belong to the Europe-wide protected areas system NATURA 2000.