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Biosphere Reserves: Rhoen Sheep Project

Lead Organisation:

UNESCO Rhoen Biosphere Reserve (Bavarian Unit)



Time period:

on-going since 1984

Web link:



Bund Naturschutz Bayern (nature conservation association)

Josef KOLB, Rhoen sheep shepard, chairman of grazing cooperation, farmshop

From the Rhoen for the Rhoen Association

Dietmar WECKBACH, Rhoen sheep shepard

Rhoen biosphere reserve and nature park association

Dr. BACH, Rhönhöfe (marketing cooperative of organic agricultural products)



The principle objective of the Rhoen Sheep project is the in situ conservation of an endagered domestic sheep breed (Rhoensheep). The projects objective addresses the three pillars of sustainable development:

Environment: to promote the conservation of biodiversity through grassland management with this autochtone sheep breed which is well adapted to climate and natural conditions;

Society: to generate employment, multilateral cooperation on a regional level, and regional identity;

Economy: to generate income and jobs.

The project is linked to Agenda 21: chapters I.4; II.15; II.14; III.30 and the United Nations Millennium Declaration:chapter V. Protecting our common environment.


Measurable results and specific targets:

Measurable results of the Rhoen Sheep project include increasing Rhoensheep from 0 to 2000 ewes in the region since 1994;

Developing a market for sheep/lamb meat in the region both among individual customers and local gastronomy. Restaurants in the region now offer Rhoensheep dishes, and Rhoensheep products can be purchased at a Rhoensheep farm shop;

Encouraged tourism through the creation of a Rhoensheep festival and guided walks/excursions.

Promoted the Rhoensheep as the mascot of the region.

Indicators used to measure project success include the number of Rhoensheep in the region, and the surface of grassland managed by Rhoensheep.

The project has set a target to function as a financially self-sustaining and self-organised project.

Results and progress of the initiative are reported through brochures, books, and the presentation of the Rhoen Sheep initiative as model project.


Implementation mechanisms and further application:

The Rhoen Sheep project was initiated by ENGO (in situ conservation) together with a local farmer; biosphere reserve administration provides technical and organisational support (esp. marketing and environmental education).

Funding sources include: private sources; ENGO; EU Leader programme; EU 5b Programme; Bavarian and Federal Ministry of the Environment (grassland management subsidies); EU-Projekt Life;

Arrangements for capacity building and learning include: experience exchange and environmental education. The project plans to extend these efforts by facilitating international exchanges and mutual learning experiences within the UNESCO Biosphere Reserves World Network.

The project is linked to other sustainable development activities at the local, regional, international level through the marketing of local agricultural products at the regional level, participation in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserves World Network, and linkages to Agenda 21 and the United Nations Millennium Declaration.








UNESCO Rhoen Biosphere Reserve (Bavarian Unit)


Oberwaldbehrunger Str. 4




Germany/ Bavaria

Postal Code:



0049-9774-9102-0 or 0049-9774-9102-12



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