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Luxembourg’s biggest nature reserve

Officially classified as a national nature reserve in 1994, the core area “Haard-Hesselsbierg-Staebierg” with its more than 600 hectares is the largest contiguous nature reserve in Luxembourg. 

A large part of the area consists of former open-cast mines, as in all core areas of the UNESCO Biosphere.

The core zone “Haard-Hesselsbierg-Staebierg” is located on the territory of 3 of the 11 municipalities of the Syndicat PRO-SUD. The largest part, 323 hectares, belongs to the municipality of Dudelange, on the territory of the municipality of Kayl are 234.5 hectares of the protected area and the remaining 36 hectares belong to the municipality of Rumelange.

If you want to discover this core area of the Minett UNESCO Biosphere, you can enjoy two newly marked hiking trails (the red butterfly trail and the blue butterfly trail), more than 25 kilometers of bicycle paths and 25 kilometers of horseback riding trails.

The landscape is diverse. In addition to the dry grasslands that have been created by open pit mining, there are quarry faces, which are also evidence of the industrial exploitation of the land, in this part of our biosphere reserve, slag heaps, original forests, as well as traditional cultural landscapes, fields and meadows. These can be found, for example, on the “Reiteschkopp”.

In the area of the “Laangebierg” and the “Kalebierg”, about 156 hectares of this core area of our biosphere are designated as nature forest reserves.

The former open-cast mines, which are regularly grazed by migrating sheep, offer a rich habitat due to their special characteristics. The pioneer meadows that were created here and are preserved today, are characterized by their poverty of nutrients, by the heat that appears quickly on these surfaces during the summer, often accompanied by a greater dryness, and by their brightness.

But also the slag heap that can be found on the edge of the plateau of the “Haard” is biologically valuable. Here the woodlark (Lullula arborea) has found a home, which it enjoys together with more than 100 other bird species, including the Eurasian eagel-owl (Bubo Bubo), which takes advantage of the quarry faces to nest.

The core area “Haard-Hesselsbierg-Staebierg” of the Minett UNESCO Biosphere is also characterized by an abundance of orchids and butterflies, which populate the protected area of national interest in summer. There is a presence of lizards, snakes and amphibians and in the case of mammals, it is also worth mentioning the wild cat, bats and dormice, which have found refuge in this part of our biosphere reserve.

More information on this core area can be found in this brochure edited by the Nature an Forest Agency.

© Marc Weis