Ark Region Elbe River Landscape – Data and Facts

Across three German Laender (states) of Lower Saxony, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg Vorpommern, the Ark Region covers  3.000 square-kilometers territory within the UNESCO-Biosphere Reserve Lower Saxonian Elbe Valley and the River Landscape Elbe Mecklenburg and southern Brandenburg.

Mr. Hartmut Heckenroth, who, following the German Reunification and on behalf of the Stork Foundation, was a key initiator of the conservation activities in Preten.

January 2011 at the Green Week exhibition in Berlin. Certified by the GEH Rare Breed Society (Gesellschaft zur Erhaltung alter und gefährdeter Haustierrassen). Initially launched with ten certified Ark Farms.

In 2021 the region comprised more than 30 certificated Ark Farms. About 150 holdings were registered across the Ark Region, and these comprised more than 50% of the species covered by the GEH Red List of Endangered Livestock Species. Particular emphasis is being placed on local and regional breeds.

Ark Center Neuhaus:
In 2013, parts of the historic House of the Guest (Haus des Gastes) was remodeled to host a modern exhibition on the Ark Initiative. The establishment of this exhibition is a joint initiative by the Lueneburg County, the Amt Neuhaus Municipality, and the Biosphere Reserve Lower Saxonian Elbe Valley.

Society of Friends of the Ark Region:
In 2014, a Society of Friends of the Ark Region Elbe River Landscape was founded. Chairman is Mr. Holger Hogelücht, Rosien.

The Ark Region offers a cycling map with display of all certified farms and holdings as well as events in the Ark Region (currently third edition).

Arca-Deli Award 2012 by the Save-Foundation for the innovative cycling map of the Ark Region.

„Awarded Locality“ 2014 in the Germany-wide competition Country of Ideas

Society of Friends of the Ark Region: +49-38841-759614

Ark Center: +49-38841-759614,

Gesellschaft zur Erhaltung alter und gefährdeter Haustierrassen, GEH:

Background and Objectives
Maintaining and protecting rare livestock breeds is the overarching objective of livestock breeders in the Ark Region Elbe. In collaboration between regional stakeholders and GEH Rare Breeds Society (Gesellschaft zur Erhaltung alter und gefährdeter Haustierrassen), the Ark initiative strives to maintain living, locally adapted farming systems – an approach which extends far beyond the pure maintenance of gene banks. Production and sale of high quality meat, dairy, and wool products is to contribute to maintaining a economically sustainble production and expansion of holdings of endangered breeds.

What is the GEH Rare Breeds Society?
The GEH was founded as a German livestock conservancy organization in 1981. (Gesellschaft zur Erhaltung alter und gefährdeter Haustierrassen e.V., GEH). Its membership comprises farmers and breeders, but also members from agroindustries, biology, veterinary sciences, administration and related domains. Thanks to its efforts, not a single livestock breed has gone extinct since the GEH got founded.

Activities of the GEH comprise, but are not limited to:

  • Surveillance and annual update of the Red List of Endangered Livestock Breeds
  • Nomination of an Endangered Breed of the Year
  • Issuance of a quarterly magazine ARCHE NOVA
  • Support to regional and local GEH chapters
  • Certification of Red List Activities based on a positive list of certification criteria (e.g. Ark Project)
  • Active participation in national and international biodiversity conservation bodies

The Ark Project
In 1995, GEH launched the Ark Project under which farms and holdings are being certified based on a positive list of certification criteria. The Ark Region Elbe River Landscape with its currently more than 30 farms was certified under the Ark Project.

Traditional Breeds for the Future
Ark Region Elbe River Landscape and Ark Center Amt Neuhaus

Pigs with reddish bristles, colorful manure-scratching chickens, cattle with bright white coats and loop-eared sheep with black patches around their eyes – just some of the many traditional breeds being kept and bred along the shores of the scenic Elbe river valley. They all are endangered, that is at risk of going extinct.
Discover the Ark Region Elbe River Landscape with its old livestock breeds in the bi-state Biosphere Reserve Elbe River Landscape. Many small family farms keep and breed these increasingly rare livestock species. And because free ranging livestock and scratching poultry create an agro-environment conducive to other small animals, these breeders make an essential contribution to maintaining biodiverse agricultural landscapes.
Breeds carry colorful names such as Buntes Bentheimer Schwein, Rauwolliges Pommersche Landschaf, Wollschweine, Deutsches Niederungsrind, Vorwerkhühner oder Deutsche Sperber – 24 farms are currently cerfied as Ark Farms, and many more hobby scale holdings reside in the region. Guests are welcome anytime, and a cycling map guides visitors from farm to farm through scenic landscapes, often directly along the unique natural shorelines of the Elbe River. Are you too interested in discovering these unique breeds on our participating family farms, and would you like to sample or even take home some of the regional projects?
A wide range of information is available in the Ark Center Amt Neuhaus. The exhibition hosted here provides for interactive exhibits that invite young and old to touch, comprehend and participate.
Centrally located in the town of Neuhaus the Ark Center is situated in a little park, also offering ideal surroundings for your travel break. You will also find it to be a very interesting point of departure for excursions into the very particular history of a region that was subject to division of the Germanys prior to 1990.
Modern media are available and we offer GPS loaner equipment which will make excursions both easy but also a very special experience for the young crowd.

Admission: Free.
Hours: Tue-Sun; 11:00-16:00.

Art, Culture, and Events

Ark Day in June
Every first Sunday of June, we host the Ark Day with multi-faceted program.
Hardly ever will you be able to see that many endangered livestock species in a single location. Participating farms, processors, and restaurants offer local products prepared based on traditional but also innovative recipes – meats, sausages, cheeses, and many others from our rare livestock species. Of course organically raised and prepared. There also is a program for the youngest, sweepstakes, and ample access to information and our members. Every year, the Ark Day is hosted on a different member farm and carries a different thematic focus.

Ark Deli Market in November
Every November we host an Ark Deli Market at the Ark Center Amt Neuhaus. A scenic fall opportunity to discover, sample and purchase a variety of products from the Ark Region Elbe River Landscape.

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