Nature reserves on the Island of Fehmarn

Relaxation for man and beast

Nature reserves on the Island of Fehmarn can only be found on the west and north coast of the island which is shaped by agriculture and farming.

Grüner Brink

The Nature Reserve Grüner Brink is situated in the north of the Island of Fehmarn. It stretches 2.5km along the coast up to the Niobe Memorial and 150m from the dyke into the water. This area of about 134 hectare was put under protection in 1938. Even in those years it was important to protect the beach barriers and the diverse world of flora and fauna.

Different kinds of birds are attracted to come to Grüner Brink, especially red necked grebes, geese and terns. Every year one can watch about 170 different kinds of birds in this nature reserve.

The area Grüner Brink was created due to the dyke construction. High water and changing currents created three lagoons of different age. As a result, heathland developed on the older beach barriers further away from the coast.

Only at a very high water level salty water from the Baltic Sea fills the small lagoons.

Even today this area is still growing into easterly direction and you can already guess the creation of the fourth lagoon.

Various kinds of geese and ducks live on the water. They make use of the sheltered lagoons, salt marshes and the flowering grass areas. Terns and screaming seagulls fly above the sea. You can find red necked grebes in the western part of the Nature Reserve Grüner Brink.

The deeper lagoons are very important as a breeding area for these birds. The big lagoon in the east is home of the waders. During the summer parts of the lagoons often dry up thus offering best feeding conditions to waders. Many terns, avocets and ringed plovers nest in the area between the dry and the wet beach at breeding time. At sun set moor frogs and water frogs cross the beach. The area Grüne rBrink is centrally situated on the migration route of water birds.

Because of that you can watch more than half of all European bird species here. A special highlight is the migration of the birds of prey from the end of August to the beginning of September. Buzzards, honey buzzards, sparrow hawks, ospreys or even owls fly across the nature reserve coming from the north.

You can reach the area using several footpaths, so that you can easily watch the birds. There is a car park near the beach Güner Brink and from there you can walk across the dyke and follow the beach to the Niobe Memorial. During the summer months there is a NABU

Ranger, who also offers guided tours responsible for this area, .

Wasservogelreservat Wallnau

This nature reserve on the west coast of the Island of Fehmarn partly belongs to the German Nature Conservationist Organisation NABU and partly to the County of Ostholstein. It aims at the protection and preservation of its ponds, reed beds, meadows and groves. Planned measures will be taken to attract more plants and animals into the area. This nature reserve is about 300 hectare (741acres) in size and you can watch about 100 different kinds of water birds here. This makes the area being one of the middle sized nature reserves in Schleswig-Holstein.

Wasservogelreservat Wallnau Wasservögel

In the secrecy of reed thickets, on the wide marshes, on the rich water surfaces of ponds, or in the muddy shore zones, you can see many different breeding and migrating birds every year, for example greylag geese, avocets and reed warblers.

400 years ago this area was just a bay of the Baltic Sea. Due to different currents, which carried sand and other material to this spot, and the process of silting a humid wet area had been formed at the end of the 19th century. Although it had been drained, the area has proved not to be suitable for agriculture; hence the NABU bought this area in 1975.

The area is divided into a 300m wide stretch of land leading from east to west. There is a natural beach barrier next to the dyke. Behind this you will see the former spit called Nehrungshaken which partly encircles a small wood. Sheep and cows are grazing on the humid salt marshes. Furthermore, there are four bigger and several smaller ponds with the overall size of 100 hectare (247acres) offering one third of the habitat of the Nature Reserve Wallnau. With the help of a ditch system and a sluice the depth of the water in the ponds can be regulated and adjusted according to the needs of the different migrating birds.

Many public relations campaigns are organized to find support for this nature reserve. The NABU offers an information centre which is open from March to October and provides information about the importance of nature protection.

A nature trail offers many exciting stations for children to test their senses. These stations include information on presentation boards about different aspects of flora and fauna for playful learning. From a 10 m high view platform you will have a fantastic view on the whole nature reserve.  Furthermore, there are observation cabins built into the protection walls, which surrounds the core area of the reserve sheltering the animals from disturbances.

The NABU offers guided tours to the enthusiastic visitor.

Naturschutzgebiet Nördliche Seeniederung

In 2014 the Nördliche Seeniederung with an area of seven hundred fifty-one hectare ( 1,855 acre) has become a protected area. The area is mainly owned by the trust Naturschutzgebiet and by the nature conservation society Nördliche Binnenseen. This nature reserve is situated in the north of Fehmarn and consists of three parts stretching along the coastline. It borders the nature reserve Grüner Brink in the north east and on the other side it borders the Water Bird Nature Reserve Wallnau. This nature reserve can be characterized by scenery typical for the coast of the Baltic Sea with barrier beach formations and some enclosed lagoons.

It also consists of shallow inland lakes which are surrounded by wet meadows and broad reed beds. This area forms a very important habitat for the terns, waders and other reed dwellers which are breeding here. Some parts of the Nature Reserve are being cared for by cattle. They prevent the lakes from turning into land. The green areas are extensively used to preserve the diversity of species in wildlife on the greens and salt marshes. Several paths are leading through the nature reserve enabling you to reach the camping sites and tourist attractions which are in the east of the island near the Markelsdorfer Huk. From there you may easily reach the several beaches which are not part of the nature reserve.

Close to the Markelsdorfer Huk is a viewing platform from where you have a good view over the Nature Reserve Nördliche Seeniederung. You can reach this platform via Altenteil where you find a car park at the dyke. For watching the birds you should have your binoculars at hand as the animals that come along here are very shy. This nature reserve is almost completely surrounded by farmland on its landside.

Naturschutzgebiet Krummsteert / Sulsdorfer Wiek

The Nature Reserve Krummsteert-Sulsdorfer Wiek is located at the southwest corner of the Island of Fehmarn. It is four hundred hectare (988 acres) large and was taken under conservation in 1980. It does not only include land but also parts of the Baltic Sea. This reserve divided into 4 parts does also show a variety of eco-systems: The Sulsdorfer Wiek situated behind the dyke, the Ramskamp, a part of the Orth bay, and the spit head Krummsteert.

The shallow water of the Orth bay offers best feeding conditions especially for waders.

Originally, there had been a shallow bay between Orth bay and Sulsdorfer Wiek, which was used to grow carps for a long time, after it had been closed off from sea by a dyke. Today you will find different birds in the newly developed salt marshes, for example  red necked grebes, bitterns, sedge warblers and bearded tits.

Flügger Leuchtturm

Furthermore, this area serves as a place for different kinds of ducks to stay over the winter months, whilst Galloway cattle are grazing on the salt marshes to suppress the growth of reed.

The area of Ramskamp also consists of salt marshes, bushes and reed beds. Here you will find breeding redshanks, water rails, spotted crakes, pendulin tits and red necked grebes.

The Sulsdorfer Wiek, a shallow sea bay, offers ample feeding area for the birds from Scandinavia when on migration in autumn, for example golden plovers, dunlins, or greenshanks stop here, but also amphibians like the green toads find a very attractive habitat here.

From the top of the nearby lighthouse you have a fantastic view of the spit which is growing by about twenty meters further into the Orth bay each year. In 2013 the whole area became larger by one third due to silting. At that stage decision was taken to place the complete peninsula under protection. The Krummsteert is one of the few areas at the Baltic Sea where barrier beaches can build up without being disturbed.

The undisturbed sand is an ideal place for the stopover of cormorants, teals and seagulls. The endangered sea holly and the crambe, which is quite rare on the Island of Fehmarn, grow on the barrier beaches overgrown by beach grass behind the Krummsteert.

If you wish to discover the area by walking, please bear in mind that you will find proper foot paths only in the area of Ramskamp. You can discover this interesting nature reserve on a walk via the dyke starting at Orth harbour to the Flügge lighthouse or you start the walk from Flügge beach to the lighthouse. When you walk on the dyke you will have a wonderful view on the nature around you. To protect wildlife and the sensitive nature you are not allowed to leave the paths. During the summer months a warden guards the nature reserve.


Keeping a balance between tourism and conservationism is very difficult in this area on the Island of Fehmarn, as the dividing line between nature reserve (spithead of Krummsteert) and surfing area (Orth harbour) is right in the middle of the bay. This has often led to violations of the nature reserve.


The Island of Fehman is at the crossroads of migration routes for water and land birds almost at the doorstep of Scandinavia or mainland Europe if you look at it the other way. However, in autumn and in the spring thousands of migrating birds come to the island stopping over in one of four nature reserves along the northern and western coast of this island.

The Grüne Brink in the north of the island is especially important for the red necked grebes because of its size of 134 hectare. Another highlight at this place is the migration of buzzards, honey buzzards, sparrow hawks and ospreys from end of August till the beginning of September.

The Water Bird Nature Reserve Wallnau with its three hundred hectare(741 acre) area  is managed by the NABU. You will be informed about the one hundred different kinds of birds staying on the nature reserve’s area on an educational path and by guided tours.

Nature reserve Nördliche Seeniederung connects the Grüne Brink and the Water Bird Reserve Wallnau which measures an acreage of 751 hectare ( equals 1855 acres) and was put under protection in 2014. All the different kinds of animals living here are very shy, therefore, you should really bring binoculars .The area of the Nature Reserve Krummsteert-Sulsdorfer Wiek differs very much in its eco-systems offering habitat to numerous different species. Furthermore, there are Galloway cattle and sheep taking care for the nature reserve and stop the overgrowing with grass. Although you are not allowed to leave the tracks to enter into the nature reserves there are several viewing platforms and huts for watching birds provided, so that you can enjoy fantastic views on all this spectacular birdlife on the Island of Fehmarn.

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