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Nature & Landscape

Development of the Ries landscape

Beech forests in Jura highlands

The Ries was treeless tundra at the end of the last Ice Age. A low birch forest slowly followed and over the millennia grew into an oak and hornbeam forest.  This is the origin of today’s Jura forest. The deciduous forests are especially diverse and rich in species.  Warmth and light influence the flora of the beech forest, in particular in springtime due to the lack of foliage.

The stages of development—from the impact event through sedimentation of the Ries Lake, to erosion and the deposition of loess and sand—provide the basis for the appearance of our Ries landscape today. The Ries basin is almost devoid of forests; here rivers and streams with accompanying wetlands alternate with large fertile agricultural areas as well as dry grasslands in the western, southern and eastern edges. The vegetation reflects the characteristics of the soil.  

Calcareous beech forest
Calcareous beech forest
Pasque flowers on dry grassland of Ries rim
Pasque flowers on dry grassland of Ries rim
Eurasian curlew in Ries wetland
Eurasian curlew in Ries wetland

Wetlands and dry grasslands

Traditionally maintained by migratory sheep grazing, dry grasslands and juniper heaths are habitat for numerous endangered animals and plants. Extensive meadows and wetlands provide necessary nutrition for birds such as the lapwing, curlew, snipe and white stork.  

Traditional sheep grazing on heath with view of Ries
Traditional sheep grazing on heath with view of Ries
Flora of dry grassland with rock outcrop
Flora of dry grassland with rock outcrop
White stork family on church roof in Rudelstetten
White stork family on church roof in Rudelstetten
Meandering Wörnitz between Fürfäll and Ziegelmühle
Meandering Wörnitz between Fürfäll and Ziegelmühle