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Landscape and environment

Park Basedow
English landscape park Basedow

With cliff coasts, hills, lakes, rivers and the “flat land” Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is the result of the last ice age or glacial period. The Vistula Ice Age (ca. 115,000-ca. 10,200 years B.C.) created landscape forms in an almost model-like manner. The Pomeranian terminal moraine is the most prominent. This push moraine from the Pomeranian Stage (ca. 15,200 – ca. 14,800 years B.C.) crosses the country like a garland from northwest to southeast. After the retreat of the ice, cold steppes with pioneer plants such as crowberry and dwarf birch emerged. Ice Age mammals such as the mammoth, giant deer, reindeer and moose migrated. With increasing warming, forest communities grew. Pine and birch were followed by lime, oak and finally copper beech.

People have settled here since the Late Palaeolithic (10,000-8,000 B.C.). In the Neolithic Age (3,000-1,800 B.C.), people cleared land for arable farming. Further settlement and land use pushed back the forest. It was not until the 19th century, after overexploitation, that regulated forestry began. Reforestation creates monocultures – highly productive but fragile ecosystems with little biodiversity. In the 20th century, Mecklenburg also saw the emergence of a movement to preserve nature and the environment with demands for protecting endangered animals, plants and habitats. At the end of the century, a rethinking of forest management began. The forest habitat was upgraded by increasing the proportion of deciduous wood.

Kreidefelsen auf Rügen, Königstuhl, Luftaufnahme um 1930
Königsstuhl cliffs on Rügen

Western Pomerania, with its cliffed coasts, hills, lakes, rivers and lowlands, is a product of the last ice age or glacial epoch. The Weichsel glaciation 29,000 years ago starts to shape the landscape to the north-east. Ice covers the region for 13,000 years. Recessional moraines form as the frozen water melts. Hills containing a high quantity of gravel and stone are created by push moraines. The main product of this period is the 'Inner Baltic Main Terminal Moraine' from the Pomeranian Phase around 18,000 years ago. The top layers of soil on the island of Rügen are eroded, exposing the 70 million-year-old chalk formations. These structures are protected in the Western Pomeranian Lagoon Area National Park.

Landscape and environment