Sternberger lake district, Mecklenburg, Germany 

The Sternberger Seenland in northeast Germany is characterised by forests, moors, agricultural land and small historic towns. This hilly and varied landscape was shaped during the last ice age, some 16,000 years ago. The amalgamation of farms into large cooperatives during the Soviet era influences the large scale of agriculture in the region today.  

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the region has experienced several decades of economic challenges, including depopulation and the decline of the local economy. As weather patterns become increasingly erratic due to climate change, dry spells during the growing season have exacerbated pre-existing challenges, resulting in reduced soil fertility and increased erosion. As a result, farmers find it increasingly difficult to sell on the international market. Locally harvested goods can no longer be processed regionally due to a lack of facilities, such as mills and abattoirs. 

Despite these challenges, the landscape holds large regenerative potential. Commonland is supporting the work of Landschaftspflegeverband Sternberger Endmoränengebiet (LSE) and G.C. Pon Stiftung to restore ecosystems, create a resilient and sustainable agricultural sector, and bring back inspiration. These partners are supporting farmers in increasing their resilience in the face of a changing climate and economy. Commonland is exploring how this work may be expanded across the landscape to include other stakeholders, such as schools, local businesses, local governments, and nature conservation organisations. There is huge opportunity to regenerate wetlands, which are dotted across the region. These wetlands have historically been drained but have the potential to be restored to offer water storage solutions and aid in climate change mitigation.  

Vision 

The vision is to restore ecosystems, create a resilient and sustainable agricultural sector, and bring back inspiration.  

Challenges:  

  • Disturbed hydrological system due to climate change and agricultural practices, with reduced resilience to drought and extreme rainfall. 
  • Degradation of agricultural soils and soil erosion exacerbated by recent droughts. 
  • Loss of diversity in flora and fauna. 
  • Large number of drained wetlands which turn to low quality meadows. 
  • Declining populations in rural areas. 
  • Difficulties gaining access to local, national and international food markets paired with a lack of ability to compete successfully.  

Opportunities:  

  • Transition to regenerative agricultural practices through farmer-to-farmer learning networks. 
  • Climate adaptation through restoration and regenerative land practices.  
  • Production and sales of regenerative landscape products such as dairy and meat.  
  • Creating / expanding ecological corridors.  
  • Restoring peatlands – sustainable farming in rewetted areas.